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Path: /fantasy/week-10-injury-updates-jamaal-charles-aaron-hernandez-felix-jones-demarco-murray

The fantasy season is nearing its postseason. The weeks are winding down; the injuries are piling up. You need to stay ahead of everything in order to make that playoff push. Here’s some information on those that are on the Week 10 injury report or those stepping in for the injured.

Jamaal CharlesJamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Monday night)
A neck injury last week had people a little scared about what the status of Jamaal Charles would be for Monday night. But he is not on the injury report. And he also has not been on many positive fantasy reports the last three games. After three straight games of 40.8, 26.5 and 19.1 points in PPR scoring, Charles has a combined 20.3 points the last three weeks and a combined 34.2 in the five games that were not part of the three good ones. Now he draws a Steelers team that has allowed just three backs to have double-digit days in PPR scoring. All three came in a three-game span of Weeks 3-6. Hard to sit Charles but it's also hard to trust anything in a Chiefs uniform right now. He's not even getting garbage-time points. The 20.3 points in the last three games have come in losses by an average of 18.6 points per game.


Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills
Aaron HernandezAaron Hernandez is a fantasy tease. When he's on he's great. But his dependability has been an issue this season. Today he is out with the ankle injury that has been a bother since Week 2. He has played in three full games this season, receiving at least seven targets in those games, catching at least six passes in two games, at least 54 yards in two games and at least one TD in two games. The Pats are coming off a bye and Hernandez missed earlier in the week due to the birth of his daughter. He practiced three days this week but teased us again. And what a match up he had against a Bills team that allowed two scores to the TE position last week, has allowed at least 100 yards to the position twice this season and is ranked 24th altogether against the position in PPR formats. Unfortunately, it is too bad there's not a dependable back up behind Hernandez. It's way too risky to start Daniel Fells, Michael Hoomanawanui or Visanthe Shiancoe for the Pats, but it would also not surprise if one of them has a great day.


Felix Jones, DeMarco Murray, Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar, RBs, Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Man, do the Cowboys need DeMarco Murray back. They are 22nd in the league in PPR scoring from the running back position this season and 31st the last three weeks. Whether it is Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar or Lawrence Vickers, none of them have proven to be dependable fantasy backs. Now the Cowboys draw an Eagles team ranked 14th against the position in PPR scoring, having given up two TDs on the ground and two through the air to RBs this season. Miles Austin and Jason Witten are about the only two Cowboys (and their DST today) I am trusting against Philadelphia in Week 10.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Injury Updates Week 10: Jamaal Charles, Aaron Hernandez, Felix Jones, DeMarco Murray</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 11, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /nfl/houston-texans-vs-chicago-bears-preview-and-prediction

Two of the NFL’s best teams will clash on Sunday Night Football, when the Chicago Bears host the Houston Texans at 8:20 p.m. EST on NBC. Lovie Smith’s club stands at 7-1 after six straight victories, and Chicago has been led by an aggressive defense that seems to score on a weekly basis. The Texans are also 7-1, led by a balanced offense and a stingy defense of their own. Quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub are both 11-1 in their last 12 starts, and this game should be a well-played one between two clubs with Super Bowl aspirations.

When the Chicago Bears have the ball:
Chicago ranks 25th in the league (325.3 yards per game) in total offense, but Cutler and crew have shown flashes of becoming a solid attack. The Bears have run the ball well lately, with Matt Forte totaling 376 rushing yards over the last four games. Cutler has not thrown for big yardage, but he did toss three touchdown passes last week in Tennessee. All three went to Brandon Marshall, who has been huge with 59 receptions for 797 yards and seven touchdowns this year. The key tonight for the Bears will be limiting the Texans pass rush, as Cutler has already been sacked 28 times on the year.

 The Texans rank third in the NFL in both total defense and scoring, allowing only 285.6 yards and 17.1 points per game. Houston has given up some big games to elite quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, but the league’s second-rated run defense has been excellent. The Bears will have to game plan for defensive end J.J. Watt, who leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks. As a team, the Texans have 25 sacks and will look to add to their total of nine interceptions against the sometimes-erratic Cutler.

When the Houston Texans have the ball:
The focus with the Houston attack always starts with the running game, which ranks fourth in the league at 138 yards per contest. Arian Foster leads the NFL in total touchdowns with 11, but rushing yards may be difficult to come by versus the Bears stellar defense. Schaub has been very efficient – a big key tonight – this season, throwing for 1,918 yards and 12 touchdowns against four interceptions. The Texans may have to play this one without tight end Owen Daniels, who is questionable with a back injury.

The Chicago defense has been incredibly productive this season, ranking second in the NFL in points allowed (15.0 ppg) and first in the league in takeaways (28). In fact, the Bears already have seven interception returns for touchdowns this year (just two away from the all-time NFL record of nine). If Houston’s Watt is not the favorite for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, then it has to be the Bears’ Charles Tillman. The veteran cornerback has an amazing seven forced fumbles in eight games, along with 43 tackles, two interceptions and two scores.

Key Factor:
This is easily the NFL’s marquee matchup of the weekend, and it should be decided by the Texans offensive line versus the Bears defensive line. If Julius Peppers and company can control Foster’s productivity, Chicago can force Schaub into some rare mistakes. Look for a physical game that comes down to the fourth quarter, and we’ll take the Bears opportunistic defense with the home crowd to prevail.
Bears 20 Texans 17

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Houston Texans vs. Chicago Bears Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 11, 2012 - 05:45
Path: /fantasy/week-10-injury-updates-jonathan-dwyer-rashard-mendenhall-isaac-redman-chris-rainey-baron-bat

The fantasy season is nearing its postseason. The weeks are winding down; the injuries are piling up. You need to stay ahead of everything in order to make that playoff push. Here’s some information on those that are on the Week 10 injury report or those stepping in for the injured.

Rashard MendenhallJonathan Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Chris Rainey, Baron Batch, RBs, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Monday night)
The entire Steelers backfield is struggling with injuries going into a matchup that is very inviting for running backs against the Kansas City Chiefs. Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles), Jonathan Dwyer (quadriceps), Isaac Redman (ankle) and Chris Rainey (ribs) are all on the injury report. Mendenhall is not likely to return for this week but he will be the man when he does return. Dwyer comes back after missing last week with a quadriceps strain. Redman had 23.1 points in a PPR last week but the return of Dwyer makes the backfield a little diluted. And so does the presence of Chris Rainey. He might not get a lot of touches but the touches he does get means less for the ones that already weren't getting enough. Then there's healthy Baron Batch. Take a flier on Dwyer or Redman in what should be a blowout. But every time I have written, "this team should have its way..." it has been a close game on each occasion.


Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins
Jake LockerWell, it can't get any worse for the Titans than last week's performance against the Bears. Locker returns to the starting lineup after being sidelined with a separated shoulder he suffered twice this season. The Titans are ranked 22nd amongst fantasy QBs this season, 25th the last three weeks. All three of his top receivers are also on the injury report — Kenny Britt (knee), Kendall Wright (elbow) and Nate Washington (illness). All four are probable and should play against a Miami defense that is ranked 23rd against fantasy QBs, including 433 yards and two scores to Andrew Luck last week. It is unlikely Locker throws for 433, but the Dolphins have not held a starter under 234 yards and at least one TD this season. Locker is likely only useful in two-QB leagues, but there are a lot worse players you can take a shot with this week considering his matchup.


Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
From extremely doubtful to out is the news on Percy Harvin for today's game. An ankle injury had sidelined Harvin all week. He caught just two passes for 10 yards on six targets last week — season lows in every department. And it's just not good all around for the Vikings. Receiver Jerome Simpson is still not 100 percent, listed as probable with a calf injury. Tight end Kyle Rudolph's hot start has certainly not continued throughout the first nine weeks of the season. Christian Ponder has been struggling. Then there's the one that started this season as the biggest question mark but has soared back from ACL/MCL surgery. Adrian Peterson takes on a Detroit team he already ran for 102 yards on in Week 4 and Peterson has been a double-digit scorer in PPR formats every week this season. Stick with him and run from the rest.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Injury Updates Week 10: Jonathan Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Chris Rainey, Baron Batch, Jake Locker, Percy Harvin</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 11, 2012 - 05:42
Path: /fantasy/week-10-injury-updates-hakeem-nicks-antonio-brown-emmanuel-sanders-darren-mcfadden-mike-good

The fantasy season is nearing its postseason. The weeks are winding down; the injuries are piling up. You need to stay ahead of everything in order to make that playoff push. Here’s some information on those that are on the Week 10 injury report or those stepping in for the injured.

Hakeem NicksHakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants vs. Cincinnati Bengals
I wrote here last week to sit Hakeem Nicks
until he proves he can be productive. Yes, you might have to miss out on a week but it cannot be any worse than what he has done so far. Hopefully, you drafted well or hit the waiver wire and have long since moved on from the underperforming Nicks. He said he did not have a setback with his swollen knee, and he also still has the matter of the broken bone in his foot that he was originally coming back from at the beginning of the season. He told reporters he handles the foot "a lot better" than the knee. Yikes, yikes and yikes. We are 10 weeks into the season and he is coming off of a season-low four-target game — of which he caught one for 10 yards. And now he draws a Bengals team ranked 11th against fantasy receivers in PPR scoring.


Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, WRs, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Monday night)
An ankle injury will keep Antonio Brown out of the lineup on Monday night. Emmanuel Sanders would be a decent replacement for a Steelers team that ranks 13th amongst fantasy receivers and 12th amongst fantasy quarterbacks in points score. The Chiefs are ranked ninth against fantasy receivers in PPR scoring and 25th against fantasy RBs. However, the Steelers are struggling with the health of their backfield. Sanders' first TD of the season last week salvaged a 2-for-20 day on just two targets. He has been inconsistent in production this season, but the removal of Brown and the drops of Mike Wallace could mean good things for Sanders in the coming weeks.


Darren McFaddenDarren McFadden and Mike Goodson, Taiwan Jones, Marcel Reece, RBs, Oakland Raiders vs. Baltimore
Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson both suffered high ankle sprains last week and are on the shelf for today's early game at Baltimore. Now it is up to speedster Taiwan Jones and bruiser Marcel Reece to carry the load for the Raiders. On Monday, the coaching staff said it did not have trust in Jones due to ball security issues and he and Reece split first-team reps this week. If you want to go for the home run, go for the guy that can likely get it in Jones. If you go for the guy that would likely get the bulk of the carries and can punch it in near the goal line, go for Reece. Keep in mind Oakland is 17th in fantasy when it comes to scoring from RBs. However, Baltimore is 25th against the position, including at least 90 yards allowed to five backs in the last four games and a TD allowed to the position in all but last week's game against Trent Richardson (25-for-105 and six catches for 31 yards).
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Injury Updates Week 10: Hakeem Nicks, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Darren McFadden, Mike Goodson, Taiwan Jones, Marcel Reece</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 11, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /nfl/nfl-picks-against-spread-week-10

A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 10.

Locks of the Week
Take the Manning Bros. to cover on the road against a pair of teams with a combined 1–7 record over their last four games.

Giants (-4) at Bengals
The Bungles are on a four-game slide and 1–3 at home, with their only win in Cincy coming against Cleveland in Week 2.

Broncos (-4.5) at Panthers
Other than a 36–7 loss to the Giants in Week 3, the Cats have lost by an average margin of 3.6 points in their other five defeats.

Blowout Bargains
It’s a particularly good week for powerhouse home teams to mop up some of the worst teams in the league.

Ravens (-9) vs. Raiders
From 2007-11, Eastern Time Zone home teams have a 44–15 record against Pacific Time Zone road teams.

Patriots (-11) vs. Bills
New England is 17–1 against Buffalo in its last 18 games, including a 52–28 blowout victory in Week 4.

49ers (-11.5) vs. Rams
The Niners are 9–2 at home under coach Jim Harbaugh, including a 26–0 win over St. Louis at Candlestick Park in Week 13 last year.

Steelers (-12.5) vs. Chiefs
K.C. has a -107 point differential, losing by 13.4 points per game. The No. 1 defense should take advantage of a team with a league-worst 29 turnovers.

Straight Up Upsets
Take the home teams in these division-rivalry showdowns, which are nearly pick ‘em games as it is.

Eagles (+2) vs. Cowboys
Philly’s “Dream Team” beat the Boys twice, 34–7 in Week 8 and 20–7 in Week 16, last season.

Vikings (+2) vs. Lions
The curse of Samantha Steele ends this week for Christian Ponder.

Saints (+3) vs. Falcons
Atlanta has a 2–6 record against New Orleans and a 1–3 mark in the Big un-Easy with Matt Ryan at QB.

Sucker Bets
Stay away from these contests completely, unless you’re a hometown homer or a degenerate who has to have action.

Bears (-1) vs. Texans
Matt Schaub is 10–1 over his last 11 games; Jay Cutler is 12–1 dating back to before his season-ending injury last year.

Buccaneers (-3) vs. Chargers
The “Muscle Hamster” of Doug Martin will take on the “Turkey Neck” of Norv Turner.

Dolphins (-6) vs. Titans
Tennessee’s Jake Locker returns from a left non-throwing shoulder injury, while Bud Adams gets his firing squad ready.

Seahawks (-6) vs. Jets
The Hawks are 4–0 at CenturyLink Field this season, while the Jetlags have been sluggish wherever they play.

<p> NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 10, including Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints, New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots, St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 15:09
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-eleven-links-day-4

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for November 9.

• Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times believes Lane Kiffin is on the hot seat at USC after its latest incident and loss.

• ESPN SEC blogger Edward Aschoff looks at Alabama’s emotional ride from winning at LSU last week to facing “Johnny Football” and Texas A&M this Saturday.

• There is a debate going on in Dallas about the revealing nature of the “uniforms” worn by Mavericks dancers. No one here has found a problem yet, but we’ll do more research on the subject.

• The NFL weekend does not appear to offer many compelling matchups, but the Texans-Bears game will be must-see TV.

• It should be a fun opening night of college basketball.

• An exclusive peek into Tim Tebow’s email?

• The Jaguars remained winless at home last night against the Colts, and Mike Mularkey’s club looks like the worst team in the NFL.

• Is Auburn preparing to fire Gene Chizik?

• Ken Davidoff of the New York Post ranks his top ten general managers in baseball.

• The Jon Gruden rumors have started in Philadelphia as the Eagles continue to struggle.

• This nation has become obsessed with bad singing, so look for Dallas Mavericks’ star Dirk Nowitzki to be a judge on The Voice, American Idol or X Factor after this performance.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

November 8

• SB Nation’s Bill Connelly details why unbeatens Oregon and Kansas State are on upset alert this weekend.

• Falcons wide receiver Roddy White believes his team has everything it takes to finish the season undefeated.

• The borders of Colorado after Election Day?

• Many around college football assumed the Heisman Trophy was Collin Klein’s to lose, but Oregon’s Kenjon Barner is closing in. Dave Miller of the National Football Post looks at the top candidates to win the award.

• To honor legendary coach Darrell K. Royal after his passing this week, Texas will wear a DKR decal and start the game in the wishbone formation against Iowa State. Great tribute Longhorns.

• The Lakers shot 28 more free throws than the Jazz last night, but Utah won 95-86 and sent Los Angeles to 1-4 on the season.

• The Colts will look to continue their 2012 magic in Jacksonville tonight.

• The nation’s top football prospects, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche of Georgia, has decommitted from Clemson. Many believe he will soon verbally commit to Ole Miss, where his brother plays.

• Embattled Eagles quarterback Michael Vick had to shut down his brother’s ‘tweeting’ after another Philly loss.

• The Rockies named former big league infielder Walt Weiss as their new manager.

• Awwww…look at singer Rod Stewart crying after his favorite soccer team, Celtic, beat Barcelona. No word yet if the pop star’s favorite football player is Alabama’s A.J. McCarron.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

November 7

• There is sad news from Texas today, as legendary Longhorns coach Darrell Royal has passed away at the age of 88. Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman details Royal’s amazing accomplishments, colorful nature and sound character.

• Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has reportedly shaved his head in support of coach Chuck Pagano, who is battling leukemia.

• Could Texas A&M’s up-tempo offense give Alabama trouble? Brent Zwerneman has the latest on “Johnny Football” and the Aggies.

• Thank you to for making a positive out of Election Day coverage, or non-coverage.

• Will the Reds move their talented closer, Aroldis Chapman, to the rotation next season?

• Blake Griffin should start tonight for the Clippers, but coach Vinny Del Negro says the injured elbow of his star forward is a concern.

• The Falcons are 8-0, and many writers are giving quarterback Matt Ryan the lead in the NFL MVP race.

• Can the West Virginia offense regain its mojo?

• Rangers starter Yu Darvish will not pitch in next spring’s World Baseball Classic, a tournament where he previously was a star.

• Two Indiana basketball players, Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea, have been suspended for nine games each by the NCAA in an unusual case.

Wishful thinking from Clippers forward Lamar Odom?

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

November 6

• On this Election Day, we look back at probably the best athlete to become President of the United States. Gerald Ford was a center on Michigan’s 1932 and 1933 undefeated national title teams, and he had his jersey retired by the Wolverines.

• Would Alabama actually want the high-octane Oregon Ducks as its BCS Championship Game opponent? Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee says yes.

• Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News looks at the free-falling Eagles, who have lost four in a row and have issues all over the field.

• Here’s an interesting political candidate who could transform the election.

• Red Sox slugger David Ortiz responded strongly to last month’s claim by former Boston manager Bobby Valentine that Ortiz quit on the team this season.

• The 3-0 Knicks are off to their best start in 13 years.

• Tired of politics? You can always check out some “MACtion” tonight, when 8-1 Toledo meets 6-3 Ball State.

• A write-in Presidential ballot with Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide golf coach? Yep, it is Alabama.

• Check out these GIFs of nutty people in infomercials.

• College basketball starts in a few days, and here are CBS’ top 25 games before Christmas.

• The most talked-about play in last night Saints’ win over the Eagles was Philadelphia’s attempt at the ole Titans “Music City Miracle.” Philly took it a step further by having Riley Cooper lay flat in the end zone to disguise him, but much like the rest of the Eagles season it failed because of bad execution on a forward pass.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

November 5

• Most LSU fans were livid with the wild gambles of coach Les Miles for giving away the Alabama game, but Gannett’s Glenn Guilbeau says defensive coordinator John Chavis deserves much of the blame as well.

• Bleacher Report’s Michael Felder looks at the Heisman candidacy of Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, who rushed for 321 yards and five touchdowns in the Ducks’ 62-51 win over USC.

• The sports and broadcasting world is mourning the loss of ESPN radio’s lead NBA voice, Jim Durham, who passed away at age 65.

• Titans owner Bud Adams sounds ready to make some changes after their 51-20 home loss to the Bears.

• Ouch, that shark bite is going to leave a mark.

• Does it make sense for the NFL to void the contract extension of suspended Saints coach Sean Payton?

• Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III get much of the NFL rookie attention (and deservedly so), but Buccaneers running back Doug Martin is quickly becoming a star in Tampa Bay.

• Is there a possibility that Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein would miss the TCU game this Saturday?

• After spending big money last offseason (and not making the postseason), the Angels have let veterans Dan Haren and Torii Hunter go.

• Can Missouri win an SEC basketball title in its debut season?

• The Colts moved to 5-3 on the season with a 23-20 win over the Dolphins, and quarterback Andrew Luck set an NFL rookie record with 433 passing yards. But the best moment of the day was when Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano, who is battling leukemia, was able to attend the game and give this inspiring post-game speech.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 10:19
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-10

Week 10 marks the unofficial start to the second half of the NFL regular season. Eight games remain until the NFL’s postseason, but it’s fewer than that when you take into consideration the start of your fantasy league’s playoffs. Week 10 also means that fantasy owners begin their stretch run without the services of Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson, Alfred Morris, Larry Fitzgerald, Randall Cobb, the Arizona and Green Bay DSTs, among others.

Have no fear, Athlon Sports is here to help you make all of those important lineup decisions for your Yahoo!, or ESPN fantasy football league with our weekly Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 10 Positional Rankings

Week 10 Waiver Wire

Bye week teams: Arizona, Cleveland, Green Bay, Washington

Sneaky Start of the Week
Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay vs. San Diego
Vincent Jackson is Tampa Bay’s No. 1 wide receiver and No. 8 at his position in fantasy scoring, but don’t discount the Buccaneers’ “other” starting wideout, Williams. While Jackson has a huge advantage on Williams when it comes to receiving yards (710 to 504), Williams has just two fewer receptions (29 to 31) and one less touchdown (5 to 6) than his well-paid teammate.

To put it another way, Williams is No. 22 among receivers in fantasy scoring, ahead of the likes of Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, DaSean Jackson and Torrey Smith, to name a few. Williams has scored 13.4 or more fantasy points five times, while managing 5.6 or fewer only twice.

With as well as Josh Freeman has been throwing the ball lately (11 TDs, 1 INT in his last four games), there should be enough passes for both Jackson and Williams to be viable starting options. On top of that, the Buccaneers host San Diego this Sunday. The Chargers are allowing the 11th-most fantasy points to wide receivers, including 11 touchdown receptions.

This matchup also finds Jackson facing off against his former team. While Jackson will probably have a little extra juice headed into this game, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Chargers a little more fired up than usual either, as the defense attempts to limit the amount of damage done by their former teammate. The extra attention paid to Jackson, may present more opportunities for Williams, who is averaging 17.4 yards per reception.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants at Cincinnati
Just when you thought Nicks may finally be over the hump with the issues related to his ankle/foot, word comes out that he experienced more swelling in his knee this week. The good news is that he was able to return to practice on Thursday, albeit in a limited fashion, and, for what it's worth, he has said he will play Sunday.

Injuries have consistently been an issue for Nicks, who broke his right foot back in May. He started in Week 1, but missed three games after experiencing soreness with his foot/ankle while also dealing with the knee issue. He’s played in the last four games, and while it appears he will continue that streak Sunday in Cincinnati, his owners have no doubt gotten a little tired of the will-he-or-won’t-he guessing game about his playing status.

If the injury bug and his constant “Questionable” or "Game-Time" designation haven’t been enough of a headache, there’s also the matter of Nicks’ lack of production. In Week 2 against Tampa Bay, he caught 10 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. In the other five games he’s played, he’s had a total of 17 receptions for 191 yards and no scores.

It also doesn't help that Eli Manning has been struggling lately too. He has only two touchdown passes compared to four interceptions in his last four games. I don’t really worry about this week’s matchup against Cincinnati as it applies to Manning’s outlook, but I do think this would be a good week to give Nicks a break and not worry about the will-he-or-won’t-he decision. Just put him on your bench and check back with him in two weeks (Giants are on bye in Week 11).


Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) at New England
Fitzpatrick had his best game of the season back in Week 4. Despite throwing four interceptions, he also piled up 350 yards passing and four touchdowns. Who was that game against? You guessed it, New England, who the Bills are playing in Foxboro this Sunday. As good as the Patriots’ defense has been against the run, the unit is 28th against the pass and is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. If this game looks anything like the 52-28 affair it was in Week 4, don’t be surprised if Fitzpatrick puts up similar, if not slightly better, numbers.

Alex Smith (SF) vs. St. Louis
Smith played arguably his best game of the season in Week 8 on “Monday Night Football” in Arizona. He only missed one of his 19 pass attempts for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Now coming off of the bye, Smith and the 49ers host NFC West division rival St. Louis. The Rams’ defense has held up pretty well, but gave up 304 yards passing to Tom Brady and 45 points to the Patriots in London in Week 8. Even though the Rams are also coming off of a bye and no one will ever mistake Smith for Brady, I see no reason why he can’t repeat his Week 8 numbers against the Rams. Especially considering I think the 49ers’ defense at home will do its part to give the offense plenty of chances to put points on the board.

Ryan Tannehill (MIA) vs. Tennessee
Tannehill didn’t let a bruised quad/knee keep him off of the field last week against Indianapolis. Not only that, he put up his second-highest yardage total of the season, as he had 290 passing yards and a touchdown in the 23-20 loss to the Colts. Another week away from sustaining the injury, Tannehill should be back to near 100 percent health this Sunday against Tennessee. And what better opponent to get “healthy” against than the Titans, who have allowed 20 touchdown passes and the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Tannehill may be a rookie, but keep in mind that the fewest fantasy points the Titans have surrendered to a starting quarterback thus far is 18.3 to Matthew Stafford in Week 3. Don’t’ forget, when it comes a start/sit designation here, 16 points is considered start-worthy for quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.

Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. New York Giants
Dalton is just outside of the top 10 for fantasy scoring at his position, and he’s posted four games of 26 or more points. My concern with him is that he has a tendency to produce based on his opponent. By that I mean he has done a good job of feasting on teams with weak defenses, as his top performances have been against Washington, Cleveland (twice) and Jacksonville. On the other hand, he hasn’t fared as well against defenses that can bring consistent pressure, like Baltimore, Miami and Pittsburgh. The Giants (25 sacks) certainly fall into the latter category, and even though they are the road team, I like the defense this week (see below) to play with a chip on its shoulder, following last week’s disappointing home loss to the Steelers. Dalton can thank the schedule-maker for being cast in the role of prey this Sunday.

Matt Schaub (HOU) at Chicago
The Bears may be just 16th in the league in pass defense, but anyone who has watched the Monsters of the Midway play this season knows that this is merely a number. They are tied for the league lead in interceptions with 17 and have returned seven of them for touchdowns. The defense has scored more touchdowns on interception returns than it has allowed (six) to quarterbacks. The Texans run the ball more than they throw it anyway, which already makes Schaub more of a matchup guy than every-week starter. To that end, can you think of a worse matchup for him than this?

Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. Houston
While Cutler’s defense may be getting all the attention and blowing away the competition when it comes to fantasy scoring, Houston’s D, which he will face on Sunday, is certainly no slouch. The Texans are third overall in total defense (Bears are 6th), second against the rush and fourth versus the pass and in scoring defense. Statistically speaking, the Bears are only better than the Texans in scoring defense and takeaways. Cutler may be coming off of a three-touchdown game against Tennessee, but the only similarities between the Titans and the Texans is that they both play in the AFC South, have ties to Texas and their team names start with the letter T. When it comes to their respective defenses, there are no similarities just as there is no good reason, other than if you have no other option, to start Cutler this week against the Texans.

Running Backs

Stevan Ridley (NE) vs. Buffalo
Ridley has gotten 15 or more carries in every game but one this season. While his best game came in Week 5 against Denver when he had a season-high 28 attempts (151 yards), he also has shown he can do some damage with fewer chances. In his last game, Ridley ran for 127 yards against St. Louis on just 15 carries. Trying to figure out Bill Belichick’s running back rotation is a exercise in futility, but considering the Bills are yielding an average of 5.7 yards per carry, this seems like as good a week as any for Ridley to do some damage even if he doesn’t get the lion’s share of attempts. Don’t forget he went for 106 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries in Week 4 against these same Bills.

Chris Johnson (TEN) vs. Miami
Despite my best guess, Johnson was the lone bright spot in the Titans’ 51-20 shellacking at the hands of the Bears last week. Johnson went for 141 yards rushing, including an 80-yard touchdown, which is by far the most damage the Bears have allowed to a running back this season. Yes the game was well decided by the time Johnson broke off his 80-yarder, but it still counts all the same and he has now posted 91 or more yards on the ground in five of his last six contests. As well as the Dolphins have done against the run, they have yielded at least 91 yards rushing to running backs in each of their past three games. As hot as Johnson has been of late, I would have no hesitation plugging in him this week if he was on my roster.

Mikel Leshoure (DET) at Minnesota
A first glance at Leshoure’s stats last week show 70 yards rushing, which isn’t that great. But scan two more columns over and you see 3 under the TD heading. Even though Joique Bell out-gained (73 to 70) Leshoure on the ground and through the air (36 yards receiving to 0), Leshoure made the most of his opportunities, scoring three rushing touchdowns from eight yards and in, all in the second quarter. Bell will get his touches, but Leshoure also will certrainly get his fair share of carries and gets to face a Vikings’ defense that has allowed an average of 121 yards rushing to the last three No. 1 running backs they have faced – LaRod Stephens-Howling, Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch.

Jamaal Charles (KC) at Pittsburgh (Monday)
Charles ran for 140 yards against Baltimore in Week 5. In the three games since, he’s gained a total of 83 yards on the ground. It doesn’t help that he’s only had a combined 29 carries in those games, compared to the 31 he received against the Ravens, but the Chiefs constantly having to play from behind has contributed to the decline in production as well. There’s no reason to expect that the Chiefs won’t be playing from behind Monday night against the Steelers, who are tied for seventh in rush defense. The Steelers have allowed no more than 74 yards rushing to a team’s backfield over its last three games. Unless Charles can do some damage early, I think it will be another quiet outing for the guy who racked up 233 yards on the ground back in Week 3.

Ryan Mathews (SD) at Tampa Bay
Mathews has yet to top the 100-yard mark since his return in Week 4 from a broken collarbone. He also has scored a total of one touchdown. Tampa Bay is tops in the league in rushing defense, and given the Chargers’ offensive struggles throughout the season, there’s no reason to think they will solve them all, especially having to make the cross-country trip to play the Bucs on Sunday. If Mathews has a big game on Sunday, chances are it will be due to his production in the passing game. While that may end up happening, the Bucs’ track record says otherwise when it comes to his outlook as a rusher this week.

Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) at Cincinnati
Bradshaw has already shown what he can do when he gets a bunch of carries. Try 200 yards on 30 attempts against Cleveland and 116 the following week on 27 totes on the road against San Francisco. However, he’s also been a constant on the Giants’ injury report, as he can’t seem to get over issues related to his troublesome feet. While he’s only missed one game, he’s been a game-time decision on more than one occasion, which is the last thing an owner wants to worry about when it comes to finalizing their lineup. The team also seems to have grown somewhat weary with his injury issues, as his carries have declined since the 49ers game. Andre Brown is back and completely healthy, and he has been cutting into Bradshaw’s workload more and more each passing week it seems. Bradshaw’s been limited again in practice this week, and while there appears to be no real danger of him not playing against Cincinnati, it may be best to treat him along the lines of his teammate Hakeem Nicks (see above). That is, put him away for two weeks and then check back to see if it’s time to dust him off and give him another chance.

Wide Receivers

Kenny Britt (TEN) at Miami
If not for a fumble, Britt would have posted his best fantasy outing of the season after catching five passes for 67 yards against Chicago. Now while a possible maximum of 9.2 fantasy points may not seem like something to get that excited about, at least it’s a step in the right direction for Britt, who has 25 receptions and just one touchdown on the season. Two other things going for Britt his week are the matchup with Miami and the likely return of Jake Locker under center. The Dolphins are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers, including the second-most receptions (126), more than 1,600 yards and nine touchdown catches. Also, I think Locker suits Britt’s deep-threat ability more as he has a stronger arm than Hasselbeck. Health doesn’t appear to be an issue for Britt at this point, so hopefully some more production on the field is forthcoming.

Emmanuel Sanders (PIT) vs. Kansas City (Monday)
Antonio Brown is not expected to play after sustaining a high ankle sprain last week, which means Sanders will replace him as the starter alongside Mike Wallace. While Wallace is the dangerous vertical threat, Brown is leading the Steelers in receptions and yards, and there’s no reason why Sanders can’t assume that role against Kansas City. Opportunity is clearly knocking, and I think Sanders will answer the call this week.

Davone Bess (MIA) vs. Tennessee
The only thing missing from Bess’ stat sheet this season is a touchdown. He’s averaging nine targets over his last three games and has five games with four or more receptions. Touchdowns are the easiest way to rack up the points in fantasy, and the Titans have allowed 20 of them to wide receivers already. I think is the week when Bess finally puts together a complete stat line.

Percy Harvin (MIN) vs. Detroit
Earlier in the week, Harvin, who sprained his ankle last week against Seattle after re-aggravating a nagging hamstring injury earlier in the contest, pronounced himself “a long shot” to play this Sunday. I would go so far as to label him as a “no shot” for this week, especially considering the Vikings are on bye next week. As hard as it may be to sit Harvin, there’s no reason to take your chances and start him this week. He relies too much on his speed and big-play ability, as evidenced by his league-leading 517 yards after the catch, two skills that are greatly impacted by the health of one’s ankle and hamstring.

Andre Johnson (HOU) at Chicago
I’ve already opined how I feel about Matt Schaub’s chances on Sunday against Chicago, which not surprisingly, ties into Johnson’s outlook. Not only has the Bears defense picked off 17 passes and allowed just five touchdown catches to wide receivers, the secondary has done a pretty good job of shutting down top-flight receivers. Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith and Dez Bryant all have posted 100-yard games against the Bears, but the score in the game had a lot to do with their production. Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and company have also held the likes of Calvin Johnson (3 rec., 34 yds.), Jordy Nelson (6, 84), and Danny Amendola (5, 66) relatively in check. Considering I think this will be more of a defensive battle, I think Andre Johnson will put up numbers more along the lines of Calvin Johnson, Nelson and Amendola rather than Wayne, Smith and Bryant.

Dez Bryant (DAL) at Philadelphia
Bryant came fingertips away from helping the Cowboys beat the Giants and not only did his leaping catch in the end zone not count because his hand landed out of bounds, he took a hard hit on his hip when he landed as well. While the team and Bryant both acknowledged the blow to the hip, it didn’t prevent him from playing last week against the Falcons. Still, after catching just one pass for 15 yards, you have to wonder if his hip was more of an issue than he was letting on. Either way, his lack of production last week and Tony Romo’s struggles throwing the ball are enough reasons for me to recommend looking elsewhere for a starting wide receiver this week. The Eagles have had their issues on defense, but they have given up the third-fewest receptions and just eight touchdowns to opposing wide receivers.

Tight Ends

Jason Witten (DAL) at Philadelphia
Remember when Witten was catching just two passes a game? Yeah, those days are long past as Tony Romo has really locked onto his favorite target recently. Witten had 18 catches two weeks ago against the Giants and the last time he had fewer than six receptions was back in Week 3. The Eagles have only allowed two touchdown receptions to tight ends, but in Witten’s case, he has shown he can be productive without getting into the end zone.

Jermaine Gresham (CIN) vs. New York Giants
Gresham has scored 7.2 or more fantasy points in five of his past six games, including three double-digit performances. He has had at least five receptions four times during this same span, and in one of the other two games he had a touchdown catch. Although the Giants have surrendered just one touchdown catch to a tight end, they have allowed the second-most grabs (57) to the position. A.J. Green is Andy Dalton’s top target, and although I don’t think the quarterback will have a huge game this Sunday (see above), I still like Gresham’s chances of putting together a start-worthy (which is 10 points for tight ends) effort.

Brent Celek (PHI) vs. Dallas
Celek has caught a decent number of passes (33), but he still has just one touchdown so far. He’s only had one double-digit scoring game this season and I wouldn’t count on one this Sunday. Dallas is giving up an average of 6.0 fantasy points per game to tight ends, which ranks them 27th in points allowed to the position.

Jared Cook (TEN) at Miami
Cook’s scoring has dropped in each of the past five weeks, starting at 12.2 in Week 5 to a total of 0.6 (2 rec., 6 yds., fumble) last week. Now while I am fairly certain he will do better than 0.6 this week, the Dolphins have yet to allow a touchdown catch by a tight end. Even though I am looking for Kenny Britt to benefit from the return of Jake Locker (see above), I don’t have the same opinion when it comes to Cook. He’s simply been too inconsistent and too much of a disappointment (dare I say bust?) to trust right now.

Defense/Special Teams

Pittsburgh vs. Kansas City (Monday)
The Steelers are following a similar script from last season, a statistically dominant defense on the field, but not very productive when it comes to fantasy scoring. The Steel Curtain is ranked No. 1 in the league in total and pass defense, but are tied for 25th in fantasy scoring as a DST. That will probably change this week, however, with Kansas City coming to town. Not only do the Chiefs have a league-worst 29 turnovers, they are also allowing the most fantasy points to opposing DSTs. The Steelers’ DST has scored double-digit fantasy points just twice so far. I feel fairly confident this number will be three after this game.

New York Giants at Cincinnati
The Giants gave up 158 yards rushing to Pittsburgh last week in a 24-20 home loss that had their home coach using the dreaded four-letter word to describe their effort. No defense wants to be called “soft,” let alone that of the defending Super Bowl champs. True to their championship pedigree, I expect this defense, which is second only to Chicago in fantasy scoring among DSTs, to play with a little extra fire in its belly this week in Cincinnati. Pity Andy Dalton (see above) and the rest of the Bengals, who are in the Giants’ cross-hairs, and have allowed the third-most fantasy points to DSTs.

New England Patriots vs. Buffalo
While the Patriots came out on the winning end against the Bills in Week 4, the defense still gave up 28 points and 438 yards of offense. Six turnovers fueled the majority of the Patriots DST’s 15 fantasy points that week, and there’s no guarantee the unit will be able to generate that many this time around. I’m expecting another fairly high-scoring affair, especially due to the Patriots’ issue stopping the pass (see Ryan Fitzpatrick, above), and think this type of game is too risky to count on significant production from their DST.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Oakland Raiders
A Ravens defense that’s already missing two key pieces in linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb, could be down a few more as defensive linemen Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee and safety Ed Reed all missed practice on Wednesday. That’s not to say any or all won’t suit up on Sunday, but it’s not the type of news this defense needs either. The Ravens’ DST, who for years was one of the top scorers in fantasy, hasn’t reached double digits in three games. Not saying Carson Palmer will throw for another 414 yards against the Ravens on Sunday, but I do believe the Ravens are anything but a safe option at DST this week.  


Shaun Suisham (PIT) vs. Kansas City (Monday)

Kansas City is giving up 30 points per game. The Steelers are scoring around 24 points per game. I expect both of these averages will go up after the conclusion of Monday night’s game. I’m not sure how cold it will be in Pittsburgh on Monday night, but I don’t think Suisham will have to worry about keeping his leg warm. The number of times he will have to use it on the field will do the job.

Dan Carpenter (MIA) vs. Tennessee
The Titans are allowing more than 34 points per game and the most fantasy points to kickers. Six of the nine kickers the Titans have faced have scored 10 or more fantasy points. That’s the magic number that kickers need to score to be considered start-worthy. I fully expect Carpenter to join the double-digit kicker club this Sunday.

Stephen Gostkowski (NE) vs. Buffalo
Gostkowski got 10 fantasy points last time against the Bills in Week 4, but it came thanks to seven PATs and a 30-yard field goal. I expect the Patriots to score a fair amount of points, but not quite as many as they did in Round 1. And as long as the Patriots put six on the board, it means Gostkowski’s kicks count for just one point and not three.

Connor Barth (TB) vs. San Diego
The Chargers have given up a total of seven field goal attempts thus far, and while the Buccaneers have scored 28 or more points in four straight games, Barth hasn’t played a big role in this production. He’s scored more than eight fantasy points in only one of these games and also has missed four of his last eight field goal attempts. I expect more of the same, if not less, as the Chargers’ defense is ranked ninth overall and giving up less than 20 points per game.

— By Mark Ross, published on Nov. 9, 2012

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 10</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Philadelphia Eagles, NFL
Path: /nfl/5-coaches-who-could-replace-andy-reid-philadelphia

It’s all beginning to fall apart in Philadelphia where the Eagles showed so much promise a year ago. Maybe it was never smart of them to embrace the “Dream Team” nickname, but after their spending spree before the 2011 season everyone was sure they’d be good.

But they haven’t. Their record is a disappointing 11-13 since then. Michael Vick, once an MVP candidate has become a turnover machine and after a 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night, they have put themselves in a 2 ½-game hole that appears far too deep for them to climb out.

And now, after 13 1/2 mostly successful seasons – albeit 13 ½ seasons without a Super Bowl championship – Andy Reid looks lost. He seems clueless about how to revive the franchise. And there are many who think Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is finally ready to pull the trigger on a coaching change.

It won’t be easy to replace a man who has become a fixture in that rough-and-tumble city, who has managed a .597 winning percentage (129-86-1) despite residing in the hyper-competitive NFC East. When Reid was hired, he was a largely unknown assistant coach who came highly recommended but didn’t carry the star power fans usually crave.

Could the Eagles go that route again? Or will they go for the big splash? It’s far too early to tell. Who knows if Reid even will be fired after the season? But if he is, here are 5 very interesting names for Eagles fans – and fans of any team around the NFL that might soon have a coaching search – to watch:

Sean Payton – First of all, he’s a longshot for anyone. But the door was opened last week when the NFL reportedly voided the contract extension he signed with the New Orleans Saints, putting him on schedule to be a free agent after the season. Despite the BountyGate scandal that he oversaw, the Saints want to retain the only coach that took them to the Super Bowl. But Payton is also a Dallas native and would be just the sort of big splash Jerry Jones would love to make. If he’s available, if nothing else, you could bet the Philadelphia Eagles would get in line if they were looking for a replacement for Reid. Payton, a former assistant with the Giants and Cowboys, does have roots in the NFC East.
Steve Spagnuolo – He wouldn’t be a splashy hire, but he’d be a solid one with Philly roots. He was a long time assistant there under beloved defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Then he left and was the defensive coordinator that helped the Giants upset the mighty New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. His stint as St. Louis Rams coach wasn’t good, but most people saw that as an impossible situation – same for his position now as defensive coordinator of the BountyGate-saddled Saints. He’s still well-respected, knows the division, and has a defensive mind that would get the Philly faithful inspired.
Jon Gruden – In a division that has Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan and whatever big name Jerry Jones eventually hires to replace Jason Garrett, the Eagles may choose to match and there might be no bigger available name than Gruden. OK, there’s Bill Cowher and you might as well throw his name in too, but Gruden’s brash, confident, outgoing natures seems more Philly’s style. It helps, too, that his last stop before he became a head coach was as the Eagles offensive coordinator from 1995-97.
Mike McCoy – If the Eagles did want to go the unknown assistant route – especially since it served them so well with Reid – they might consider McCoy, the offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. Think about what he’s done in the past two years. He started running an offense with Kyle Orton at quarterback, quickly changed midstream to win with Tim Tebow, and then re-overhauled everything in the offseason when they brought in Peyton Manning. To continue to have success while reinventing your own scheme is pretty impressive. He’s going to be high on the list of a lot of teams looking for the next bright young mind.
Chip Kelly – Ask people around the NFL for the top college coaching prospect in the nation and they’ll probably mention Alabama’s Nick Saban. But since nobody expects him to leave the Crimson Tide, Oregon’s Kelly is next on the list. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reportedly tried to hire him before they hired Greg Schiano, and a few other teams will come knocking on his door this offseason. His spread offense with the Ducks is not only exciting it’s proved to be a winner. He may not be able to run that exact same scheme in the NFL, but he might be able to adapt some components to help out a nimble quarterback such as … oh, maybe Michael Vick?
<p> If the Eagles Fire Their Coach, Here Are Their Best Bets</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 05:52
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-ncaa-tournament-projections

The first college basketball games of the NCAA Tournament are more than four months from the start of the season, which begins Nov. 9, but it's never too early to start projections for March Madness.

Here is our best guess of how the field might appear Tournament play begins on March 19 with the First Four in Dayton.

1 Indiana Louisville Kentucky Kansas
2 Ohio State Arizona Michigan Syracuse
3 Duke Michigan State NC State UCLA
4 Missouri San Diego State North Carolina UNLV
5 Baylor Memphis Notre Dame Florida
6 Tennessee Florida State Marquette Creighton
7 VCU Cincinnati Georgia Minnesota
8 Kansas State Texas Oklahoma State Wisconsin
9 BYU Saint Mary's Cal Saint Louis
10 Pittsburgh West Virginia Georgetown USF
11 Colorado State New Mexico Wichita State Temple
12 Stanford/Marshall Miami/Arkansas Drexel Harvard
13 Davidson Utah State Ohio Murray State
14 Middle Tennessee Valparaiso Lehigh Long Beach State
15 Oral Roberts LIU-Brooklyn South Dakota State Montana
16 Savannah State Vermont Charleston Southern/ Loyola (Md.)/
      Southern Mercer


Projected NIT Field

George Mason
Illinois State
Iowa State
Northern Iowa
Ole Miss
Oregon State
Saint Joseph's
San Diego
Seton Hall
St. Bonaventure
St. John's
Texas A&M



NCAA Tournament bids by conference

Big East (8): Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, USF
Big 12 (6): Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas, West Virginia
Big Ten (6): Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin
ACC (5): Duke, Florida State, Miami, NC State, North Carolina
SEC (5): Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee
Mountain West (4): Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Pac-12 (4): Arizona, Cal, Stanford, UCLA
Atlantic 10 (3): Saint Louis, Temple, VCU
West Coast (3): BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's
Conference USA (2): Marshall, Memphis
Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State
America East: Vermont

Atlantic Sun: Mercer
Big Sky: Montana
Big South: Charleston Southern
Big West: Long Beach State
Colonial: Drexel
Horizon: Valparaiso
Ivy: Harvard
MAAC: Loyola (Md.)
MAC: Ohio

MEAC: Savannah State
Northeast: LIU-Brooklyn
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Patriot: Lehigh
Southern: Davidson
Southland: Oral Roberts
Summit: South Dakota State
Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee
SWAC: Southern
WAC: Utah State


<br />
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 05:44
All taxonomy terms: Auburn Tigers, College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/5-coaching-replacements-if-gene-chizik-fired-auburn

As Auburn puts the finishing touches on a dismal 2012 season, the writing appears to be on the wall for coach Gene Chizik. According to a report from, the school is preparing a committee to help with a coaching search at the end of the season. It’s not a slam dunk Chizik is replaced, but the SEC’s 2010 Coach of the Year probably needs a win over Georgia or Alabama to save his job.

Chizik was a questionable hire from the start, especially after recording a 5-19 record at Iowa State. The Tigers went 8-5 in Chizik’s first season but claimed the 2010 national championship. However, since winning the BCS title, Auburn is just 10-12. Also, Chizik is a mediocre 18-17 at Auburn without Cam Newton under center.

Assuming there is a change at Auburn at the end of the season, who might be the Tigers’ next coach? Here are five names to keep in mind over the next few weeks:

Five Candidates to Watch if Auburn Fires Gene Chizik

Sonny Dykes, head coach, Louisiana Tech – Dykes is another name expected to get plenty of looks for open vacancies this offseason. In three years at Louisiana Tech, he has a 21-13 record and has experience as an assistant in the SEC at Kentucky. Dykes runs a high-powered offense, which has to be attractive after Auburn has fielded a lackluster attack the last two years.

Gus Malzahn, head coach, Arkansas State – Auburn fans are certainly familiar with Malzahn, as he helped to lead Auburn’s offense during the 2010 national championship season. Malzahn has only one year of collegiate head coaching experience but there’s no question he’s ready to takeover a BCS program. Would Auburn fans welcome Malzahn back after leaving at the end of last season? 

Bobby Petrino, former Arkansas coach – There’s a lot of uncertainty where Petrino will land, but it’s a safe bet there will be a demand for his services. The former Arkansas coach has some baggage to deal with and will be on a short leash at his next job. However, Petrino is a winner and was one of college football’s top 10-15 coaches before his firing. Some schools may stay away from Petrino due to his off-the-field incident at Arkansas, but if the Montana native is interested in Auburn, the Tigers shouldn’t pass.

Charlie Strong, head coach, Louisville – Strong will be a popular name at several jobs this offseason but it’s not a guarantee he leaves Louisville this year or anytime soon. However, if Strong is interested in leaving, Arkansas and Auburn are two possible destinations. In three years at Louisville, Strong is 23-12 and has the Cardinals on the verge of an undefeated season in 2012.

Willie Taggart, head coach, Western Kentucky – Taggart is a rising star in the coaching ranks and will be in high demand this offseason. In three years at Western Kentucky, he is 15-18 and has the Hilltoppers in position to make a bowl game this year. Taggart will have his pick of jobs at the end of the season, which will allow him to be very selective if he wants to leave Western Kentucky before 2013. 

Related College Football Content

SEC Week 11 Preview and Predictions
College Football's Post-Week 10 Bowl Projections

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat

<p> 5 Coaching Replacements If Gene Chizik is Fired at Auburn</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 05:35
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-11-0

College football’s Week 11 schedule is highlighted by key games in the Big Ten Legends Division, Pac-12 North and SEC West. Also, Georgia can clinch the SEC East with a win at Auburn, and Miami can take another step toward an ACC Coastal Division crown with a victory at Virginia.


No. 51 Pittsburgh at No. 87 Connecticut
Pittsburgh just missed pulling off the upset of the year in South Bend last weekend. The Panthers are playing better as the season progresses, but it’s not a good sign when your defense gives up 291 yards passing to Notre Dame.
Pittsburgh 17–13


No. 14 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama
Alabama is riding high after its thrilling win in Baton Rouge, but Nick Saban can’t be pleased that his defense gave up a season-high 435 yards — 232 more than its previous season average — to an LSU team that had averaged only 318.3 yards in its first four SEC games. The Crimson Tide can wrap up the SEC West title with a win.
Alabama 34–21

No. 2 Oregon at No. 74 California
Cal is 2–5 in the Pac-12 and still has to play two teams (Oregon and Oregon State) that are a combined 11–1 in the league. The Bears also have issues at quarterback; starter Zach Maynard is questionable for this week’s game after injuring his knee against Washington.
Oregon 44–17

No. 3 Kansas State at No. 28 TCU
Kansas State held on to its No. 2 spot in the BCS standings after knocking off Oklahoma State 44–30 last weekend. But the big story in Manhattan is the health of Collin Klein, the Heisman frontrunner. Klein was forced out in the third quarter of the O-State game with an undisclosed injury that has been reported by some to be a concussion. K-State coach Bill Snyder says he expect Klein to play, but Snyder has been known to bend the truth on the injury front.
Kansas State 34–21

No. 4 Notre Dame at No. 94 Boston College
Amazingly, Boston College won six straight in this series from 2001-08 (they didn’t play every year), but Notre Dame has rebounded to win three straight. BC has scored 17 points or fewer in its last four vs. Notre Dame. That trend will continue.
Notre Dame 27–3

No. 6 Georgia at No. 72 Auburn
Georgia can secure a spot in the SEC title game for the second straight season with a win on Saturday. The Bulldogs will be facing a true freshman quarterback (Jonathan Wallace) who will be making his first start against an SEC team.
Georgia 34–10

No. 76 UL Lafayette at No. 7 Florida
The Gators would like to get Mike Gillislee going for the stretch drive. The senior tailback has had four straight sub-100-yard games and still needs 203 yards to become Florida’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2004.
Florida 41–10

No. 25 Mississippi State at No. 8 LSU
In the past two weeks, MSU has dropped from 48th to 73rd nationally in total offense and from 25th to 50th in total defense. There is no shame in losing decisively at Alabama, but the Bulldogs were alarmingly uncompetitive at home against Texas A&M. The task this week will be to do something that no Bulldog team has done since 1991 — win in Baton Rouge.
LSU 24–3

No. 45 Arkansas at No. 9 South Carolina
The Hogs have won three straight in the series, the last two in convincing fashion against very good Carolina teams. Two years ago, Ryan Mallet, Knile Davis & Co. rolled up 443 yards of offense in a 41¬–20 victory in Columbia. Last season, Tyler Wilson and friends outgained the Gamecocks 435-to-207 en route to a 44–28 win in Fayetteville. Now, it’s time for payback.
South Carolina 33–17

No. 79 Maryland at No. 11 Clemson
Shawn Petty, who was a linebacker two weeks ago, played relatively well in his debut as Maryland’s quarterback. He completed 9-of-18 for 115 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Not bad. But not good enough to challenge Clemson.
Clemson 34-10

No. 43 Baylor at No. 12 Oklahoma
Baylor is the only team in the nation that is giving up more than 500 yards per game. That is not good.
Oklahoma 44–20

No. 13 Oregon State at No. 16 Stanford
Redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan will make his first start at quarterback for Stanford. In last week’s 48–0 win over Washington State, Hogan replaced Josh Nunes after two series and went on to complete 18-of-23 for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
Stanford 30–27

No. 15 Louisville at No. 63 Syracuse
Louisville is ranked No. 9 in the latest BCS standings, but the Cardinals — other than being 9–0 — don’t really have the résumé of a top-10 team. They beat FIU (2–8) by seven points, Southern Miss (0–9) by four points and South Florida (3–6) by two points. They have two solid wins, over North Carolina and Cincinnati, but those were by a combined eight points and both were at home.
Syracuse 27–21

No. 17 UCLA at No. 100 Washington State
It’s fair to say Washington State isn’t running the ball well this season. The Cougars have a total of 76 rushing yards in six Pac-12 games. Colorado is next with 576 yards.
UCLA 47–10

No. 27 Penn State at No. 18 Nebraska
Nebraska has seized control of the Leaders Division with consecutive wins over Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State. The Cornhuskers, 4–1 in the league, are one game up on both Northwestern and Michigan and now hold the tie-breaker over both teams.
Nebraska 31–21

No. 34 Iowa State at No. 19 Texas
Texas will open the game in the Wishbone to honor former Longhorn coach Darrell Royal, who passed away earlier this week. Royal went 167–47–5 in 20 seasons as the boss in Austin.
Texas 33–13

No. 31 Northwestern at No. 20 Michigan
Northwestern tailback Venric Mark had 23 carries in his first two seasons. This year, Mark has emerged as the Wildcats’ top offensive weapon with 1,072 yards on a healthy 6.5-yard average.
Michigan 33–24

No. 21 Louisiana Tech at No. 112 Texas State
Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes will be a hot commodity in the coaching world following the 2012 season. And for good reason. His teams win and do so playing an exciting brand of football.
Louisiana Tech 41, Texas State 13

No. 37 Arizona State at No. 22 USC
USC has given up a total of 1,318 yards in its last two games, losses at Arizona and to Oregon at home.
USC 37-23

No. 81 Kansas at No. 23 Texas Tech
Texas Tech gave up a total of 43 points in its first four games. The Raiders have given up 41 or more three times since. That, however, won’t happen this week.
Texas Tech 47–10

No. 99 Colorado at No. 24 Arizona
Colorado has allowed 55 touchdowns this season, most in the nation. Alabama has allowed 82 points this season.
Arizona 48–0

No. 107 Army at No. 26 Rutgers
Army is the only team in the nation that has two players averaging over 100 yards rushing per game — quarterback Trent Steelman (101.2 ypg) and slot back Raymond Maples (100.8 ypg).
Rutgers 40–10

No. 29 Wisconsin at No. 67 Indiana
Amazingly, this game — between two teams with a combined nine overall losses — could determine who represents the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Wisconsin 31–26

No. 33 West Virginia at No. 30 Oklahoma State
Things have changed quite a bit in the past month for West Virginia. In early October, the Mountaineers were 5–0 and ranked in the top five in both major polls. Now, WVU is 5–3, unranked and a 7.5-point underdog to an Oklahoma State team that also has three losses.
Oklahoma State 48–40

No. 61 Utah at No. 32 Washington
Utah has scored a total of 98 points in the past two weeks, climbing from 105th in the nation in scoring (20.1 ppg) to 72nd (26.6 ppg). Washington’s defense has played well of late, holding Oregon State to 17 and California to 13 in back-to-back wins.
Washington 33–10

No. 41 Vanderbilt at No. 38 Ole Miss
Vanderbilt has controlled this series of late, winning five of the last seven overall, including two straight in Oxford. Last year, the Commodores won 30–7 in Nashville for their most decisive win vs. Ole Miss since beating the Rebs 91–0 in 1915.
Vanderbilt 24–20

No. 71 Georgia Tech at No. 39 North Carolina
North Carolina tailback Gio Bernard has been one of the best running backs in the nation in the past month. The sophomore has 717 yards and six touchdowns in the past four games.
North Carolina 31–23

No. 40 Miami (Fla.) at No. 83 Virginia
Virginia snapped a six-game losing streak last week with a surprisingly easy 33–6 win at NC State. Miami controls its own destiny in the ACC Coastal. If the Canes beat Virginia this week and win at Duke on Nov. 24, they will advance to the league title game.
Miami (Fla.) 21–13

No. 42 Cincinnati at No. 84 Temple
Temple exploded for 37 points in its Big East opener (a win vs. South Florida) but has not scored more than 17 points since. The Owls are last in the league in total offense, as well.
Cincinnati 33–10

No. 56 Missouri at No. 44 Tennessee
Tennessee’s historically bad defense is coming off its worst game of the season. The Volunteers gave up an astounding 721 yards of offense to a Troy team that had 381 yards the previous week in a loss to FAU. For the season, the Vols rank last in the league in both yards allowed per game (483.1) and yards allowed per play (6.31).
Tennessee 34–24

No. 46 Tulsa at No. 90 Houston
Tulsa is the only team in Conference USA West with a winning overall record. The Golden Hurricane are 7–2 with losses at Iowa State and Arkansas.
Tulsa 41–38

No. 47 Boise State at No. 120 Hawaii
Boise State, which lost at home to San Diego State last weekend, has multiple regular-season losses for the first time since 2007.
Boise State 48–0

No. 50 Kent State at No. 97 Miami (Ohio)
Kent State has almost doubled its scoring average from last season. The Golden Flashes are averaging 34.0 points per game — up from 17.1 last season.
Kent State 34–23

No. 122 Idaho at No. 54 BYU
BYU dips down in competition this week after playing Oregon State, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech in successive games. The Cougars should have this one wrapped up by the middle of the second quarter.
BYU 48–3

No. 80 Wake Forest at No. 55 NC State
NC State had one of the most puzzling losses of the season last week, dropping a 33–6 decision at home to a Virginia team that had lost six straight games.
NC State 34–17

No. 57 UCF at No. 102 UTEP
UCF is in control of C-USA East with a 5–0 record. The Knights have allowed exactly 17 points in each of their last three games.
UCF 41–17

No. 58 Fresno State at No. 88 Nevada
Nevada is averaging 33.3 points in its three losses — to South Florida, San Diego State and Air Force. The Wolf Pack will need to score a bunch to beat Fresno State, which has scored 42 points in each of its last three games.
Fresno State 42–41

No. 95 Air Force at No. 59 San Diego State
San Diego State is coming off one of the biggest wins in school history, a 21–19 victory at Boise State. It was SDSU’s first win over a ranked opponent since 1996. The Aztecs are now 5–1 in the MWC and will be favored in their final two games.
San Diego State 33–17

No. 64 San Jose State at No. 123 New Mexico State
San Jose State visits Las Cruces for a tune-up before returning home for a tough two-game stretch against BYU and Louisiana Tech.
San Jose State 44–10

No. 65 Navy at No. 85 Troy
Troy rolled up 721 yards of offense on the road against an SEC team — and lost. The Trojans took a 48–41 lead on Tennessee with 3:14 remaining but gave up two touchdowns in the final three minutes and lost 55–48.
Navy 31–30

No. 77 Purdue at No. 68 Iowa
Neither of these teams has won a game since Oct. 13, when Iowa somehow beat Michigan State on the road. Purdue has lost five straight — all in league play and all by seven points or more.
Iowa 21–20

No. 69 Minnesota at No. 98 Illinois
These are two of the four Big Ten teams that are ranked 68th or worse in this week’s Athlon Sports 124 rankings. Minnesota has shown signs of life this year. Illinois has been a complete debacle.
Minnesota 27–23

No. 117 FAU at No. 73 Western Kentucky
FAU beat a team two weeks ago (Troy) that rolled up 721 yards of offense at Tennessee last Saturday. What does that mean? Probably nothing.
Western Kentucky 31–13

No. 82 Marshall at No. 104 UAB
Marshall is one of 11 teams nationally that has allowed more than 2,000 yards rushing this season. It’s a good thing for the Herd that UAB ranks 11th in Conference USA in rushing with 111.0 yards per game.
Marshall 41–20

No. 86 Western Michigan at No. 108 Buffalo
Buffalo ranks last in the nation with only six turnovers forced — two fumbles and four interceptions. That’s a big reason the Bulls rank 85th nationally in scoring defense despite ranking 49th in total defense.
Buffalo 24–22

No. 111 Southern Miss at No. 89 SMU
Southern Miss’ dreadful 2012 season took another horrific turn last weekend. The Golden Eagles led UAB 16–0 at the half at home yet found a way to lose, 27–19. Ellis Johnson’s team is now an unthinkable 0–9 — one year winning 12 games.
SMU 31–18

No. 101 UNLV at No. 119 Colorado State
UNLV played its best game of the season last weekend, passing for 289 yards and rushing for 241 in a 35–7 win over New Mexico. There has been talk about Bobby Hauck’s job status, but there is a decent chance the Runnin’ Rebels could end their season on a four-game winning streak.
UNLV 28–20

No. 103 Tulane at No. 118 Memphis
Tulane scored a total of 45 points in its first five games. The Green Wave have scored 102 in their last two.
Tulane 41–20

No. 113 Wyoming at No. 105 New Mexico
New Mexico ranks last in the nation in passing yards (535), passing yards per attempt (4.6) and passing touchdowns (two). To be fair, the Lobos are running the option, but that is still alarmingly low production.
Wyoming 30–27

No. 121 South Alabama at No. 106 North Texas
North Texas doesn’t do very much well, but the Mean Green are outstanding at not letting the opposition sack the quarterback. They’ve allowed five in nine games; only three teams (Air Force, Oklahoma State and Tennessee) have allowed fewer.
North Texas 17–10

No. 110 Central Michigan at No. 115 Eastern Michigan
Dan Enos is on thin ice in Mount Pleasant. He might be gone if the Chips lose to their rivals from Ypsilanti.
Central Michigan 34–33

No. 124 UMass at No. 114 Akron
These two MAC East teams are a combined 1–19, with the one win coming by Akron over Morgan State in Week 3. UMass has been outscored 136–7 in the last three games.
Akron 27–17

McNeese State at No. 116 UTSA
McNeese State opened the season with a win at Middle Tennessee, which is now 6–2 against FBS competition. This will be a tough test for Larry Coker’s club.
UTSA 34–31

Last week: 42–11
Season: 441–130


<p>  </p> <p> College football’s Week 11 schedule is highlighted by key games in the Big Ten Legends Division, Pac-12 North and SEC West. Also, Georgia can clinch the SEC East with a win at Auburn, and Miami can take another step toward an ACC Coastal Division crown with a victory at Virginia.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 05:33
Path: /college-football/12-statistical-highlights-texas-am-vs-alabama-games

Alabama and Texas A&M will meet for the fifth time on Saturday, when the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide hosts the Aggies. There are many fascinating storylines with this game, from A&M’s success in its SEC debut to Bama’s quest to repeat as national champions to the many football connections between these two institutions. In honor of Tide greats like Kenny Stabler and Joe Namath as well as Texas A&M’s 12th Man, here are 12 statistical highlights on both the history and current matchup between two programs with elite fan bases and tradition.

4: Common head coaches between these two schools. Both Bear Bryant (A&M 1954-57; Alabama 1958-82) and Gene Stallings (A&M 1965-71; Alabama 1900-96) won national titles with the Tide after being the head coach at Texas A&M. They faced each other as coaches in the 1968 Cotton Bowl (following the ’67 season), a 20-16 decision for the Aggies as Edd Hargett outdueled Stabler. Stallings actually played for Bryant in College Station from 1954-56. Coach Dennis Franchione led Alabama from 2001-02 before departing for College Station and coaching the Aggies from 2003-07. Additionally, one of the best names ever — Dorsett Vandeventer "Tubby" Graves — led the Tide from 1911-1914 and Texas A&M in 1918.
1: Heisman Trophy winner coached by the legendary Bear Bryant. That player was Texas A&M star John David Crow in 1957.
4: Games this season where Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has compiled over 400 yards of total offense.
2001: The last time Alabama allowed an opposing player to compile more than 400 yards of total offense in a game. LSU’s Rohan Davey had an amazing 540-yard performance (528 passing, 12 rushing) in the Tigers 35-21 victory in Tuscaloosa.

1988: The last time these two schools meet on the gridiron. It was dubbed the Hurricane Bowl after being moved from September to December because of Hurricane Gilbert.
1-10: The Aggies’ record in 11 previous games against the No.1-ranked team in the AP Poll. That lone Texas A&M victory was in November of 2002, a 30-26 decision over Oklahoma as freshman quarterback Reggie McNeal came off the bench to throw for four touchdowns.

12: 100-yard receiving performances in the career of Aggies wideout Ryan Swope.

2010: The last time Alabama allowed an opposing player (Rueben Randle, LSU) to reach the 100-yard mark in receiving.
0: Times that Texas A&M has played in Tuscaloosa. The first two meetings in this series were split in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl (1942, 1968), followed by Alabama wins in Birmingham (23-10 in 1985) and College Station (30-10 in 1988).

58-3: Alabama’s record under Nick Saban when leading at halftime.

8: Consecutive games where Texas A&M has gained 400 or more yards, a school-record.

65.8: Percentage of Alabama games under Nick Saban where the Tide has allowed less than 300 yards of total offense (50 of 76 contests).

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> 12 Statistical Highlights from Texas A&amp;M vs. Alabama Games</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 05:15
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-penn-state-nittany-lions-preview-and-prediction

There hasn’t been much to cheer about for the Big Ten this year, especially with the conference’s best team (Ohio State) ineligible to play for the postseason. The Big Ten is also struggling to get enough teams eligible to fill its bowl slots and needs Indiana and Minnesota to get to six wins. Although the conference has been dealing with a bad reputation nationally, the race to win the Big Ten has been entertaining. The Legends Division appears to have some clarity with Nebraska and Michigan taking the top spot, while Wisconsin and Indiana are atop the Leaders Division.

With last week’s win over Michigan State in East Lansing, Nebraska has wrestled control of the Legends Division away from Michigan. The Cornhuskers are tied with the Wolverines for first place but own the head-to-head tiebreaker. Michigan still has to play Ohio State, so Nebraska has some cushion in the standings. However, the Cornhuskers can’t afford to take any opponent lightly the next three weeks.

These two teams have met 14 times, with only one meeting as conference mates. Nebraska has a two-game winning streak in this series and has won three out of the last four matchups against Penn State.  

Storylines to Watch in Penn State vs. Nebraska

Taylor Martinez vs. Penn State’s defense
With four new starters taking over this season, the secondary was expected to be a work in progress for Penn State. However, the Nittany Lions’ secondary has exceeded expectations, allowing 211 yards per game and ranking 22nd nationally in pass efficiency defense. This unit will be tested on Saturday against a Nebraska passing attack that ranks fifth in the Big Ten. Quarterback Taylor Martinez has been a different player at home, throwing for 12 touchdowns and one interception at home and six touchdowns and seven picks on the road. Martinez has the Big Ten’s best receiving corps at his disposal, which will test Penn State’s secondary. In addition to his arm, the junior quarterback is a difficult matchup for the Nittany Lions on the ground. He has rushed for 666 yards and eight touchdowns this year, including 205 yards in the win over Michigan State. Mobile quarterbacks have given Penn State some trouble, as they allowed 134 rushing yards to Braxton Miller and 47 yards on nine carries to Ohio’s Tyler Tettleton. Martinez is going to make a few plays, but Penn State needs to keep him contained in the pocket and limit the opportunities for runs on the outside.

Penn State’s rush offense vs. Nebraska’s rush defense
Even though Nebraska’s run defense has experienced a few bright spots, it’s still a concern for coach Bo Pelini. The Cornhuskers gave up 238 rushing yards to Michigan State last week and 180 to Northwestern on Nov. 20. Penn State is averaging 140.2 yards per game on the ground but has at least 160 rushing yards in three out of its last four games. The Nittany Lions average 3.6 yards per carry, which figures to be an easier test for the Cornhuskers than taking on Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell. Penn State running back Zach Zwinak played well in last week’s win over Purdue, rushing for 134 yards on 21 attempts. Zwinak, Bill Belton and Michael Zordich aren’t the nation’s best trio but have been a solid development for this offense. Considering the struggles of Nebraska’s front seven against the run, this is one area Penn State could exploit on Saturday.

Matt McGloin vs. Nebraska’s secondary
There’s no doubt McGloin is one of the Big Ten’s most improved players this season. The senior has thrived under new coach Bill O’Brien, throwing for 2,436 yards and 18 touchdowns. McGloin also ranks fifth in the Big Ten in passing efficiency but faces a Nebraska secondary ranked fifth against the pass. The Cornhuskers have allowed 11 passing scores but opponents are completing just 46 percent of their passes. McGloin has been steady and most importantly, has done a good job of taking care of the ball. For Penn State to win this game, he has to continue playing mistake-free ball, while finding ways to move the ball through the air against this secondary.

Final Analysis

Nebraska can move one step closer to claiming the Legends Division title with a win over Penn State. The Cornhuskers still have some work to do, but the Nittany Lions might be their biggest hurdle the rest of the way. Penn State is 3-0 in Big Ten road games this season but playing in Nebraska is its toughest matchup away from Happy Valley so far. New coach Bill O’Brien has the Nittany Lions playing well, but Nebraska will edge Penn State for the victory. The Cornhuskers may not have running back Rex Burkhead back for his week’s game, but Ameer Abdullah has three consecutive 100-yard efforts. Quarterback Taylor Martinez has been a different player in Lincoln and should be able to make a few plays on Penn State’s secondary. This one will be closer than some expect, but Nebraska moves closer to a division title with a victory over the Nittany Lions.

Final Prediction: Nebraska 27, Penn State 24

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<p> Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 05:02
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-texas-am-aggies-preview-and-prediction

The first meeting between Texas A&M and Alabama as SEC members has a chance to be the best game on the Week 11 slate. The Aggies have turned a lot of heads in their new conference, jumping out to a 7-2 mark and losing close games against Florida and LSU. The Crimson Tide used a late touchdown to beat LSU last week, which kept Alabama ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings once again.

After last Saturday’s win in Baton Rouge, now comes the hard part for Alabama. The Crimson Tide have to quickly refocus for Texas A&M, which just happens to be a dangerous team capable of pulling an upset. After an emotional, hard-fought victory last week, Alabama can’t afford to have a flat performance against a motivated team. Although a loss wouldn’t completely eliminate the Crimson Tide from the national title picture, it’s never a good thing to lose in mid-November.

While Alabama is chasing a national title, this game represents an opportunity for the Aggies to make a statement. Texas A&M is a program on the rise under Kevin Sumlin and has a lot of talent returning for 2013. With Sam Houston State and Missouri the remaining regular season games on the schedule, a victory over the Crimson Tide would give Texas A&M a good shot at having its first year of double-digit wins since 1998.

These two teams have met four times, with Alabama claiming a 3-1 edge in the series. The last meeting came in 1988, with the Crimson Tide winning 30-10 in College Station.

Storylines to Watch in Alabama vs. Texas A&M

Stopping Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel has been virtually unstoppable this season. The redshirt freshman ranks second nationally in total offense with 383.2 yards per game and has scored 14 touchdowns in conference play. Manziel hasn’t made many mistakes but tossed three picks against LSU on Oct. 20 and was contained in the second half against Florida. For Texas A&M to have any shot at an upset, Manziel has to be at his best. The redshirt freshman can’t afford to have any turnovers and should expect the Alabama defense to throw a lot of different looks at him on the line of scrimmage. The Crimson Tide rank first nationally in scoring defense and second in yards allowed. Alabama will likely use a gameplan similar to the one LSU used against Texas A&M, which kept Manziel in the pocket and limited his opportunities to make plays with his legs. As last week showed against LSU, there are opportunities for plays against the Crimson Tide secondary. Manziel is completing just a tick under 67 percent of his passes, and he needs to hit around that number for Texas A&M to win on Saturday. 

Texas A&M’s receivers vs. Alabama’s secondary
One of the biggest surprises from last week’s Alabama-LSU game was the performance of the Tigers’ passing attack. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed 24 of 35 passes for 298 yards and one touchdown. The Aggies have a more dynamic passing attack and have a trio of receivers that will test the Alabama secondary. Mike Evans is the No. 1 target with 56 receptions for 802 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan Swope (45 receptions) and Thomas Johnson (27) are also key factors in the passing attack. There’s plenty of talent in the receiving corps for Texas A&M to challenge Alabama’s secondary. After the Crimson Tide struggled to stop LSU last week, you can bet Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart spent a little extra time getting the defensive backs ready to go this week.

Texas A&M’s rush defense vs. Alabama’s rushing attack
The Aggies have been solid against the run this season, with only one opponent (LSU) allowed to rush for over 200 yards. Considering the success the Tigers had on the ground, this is one area Alabama will look to target on Saturday. Redshirt freshman T.J. Yeldon leads the team with 725 yards, while Eddie Lacy isn’t far behind with 679 yards. Lacy is dealing with an ankle injury but is expected to play. The Crimson Tide also has one of the nation’s top offensive lines, which should challenge a Texas A&M defensive line that doesn’t have a lot of depth. Expect Alabama to challenge the Aggies’ front seven early and often, using Yeldon and Lacy to try to wear down the defensive early in the fourth quarter.

Turnover battle
Winning on the road in the SEC against the No. 1 team in the nation is no easy task. Texas A&M has an opportunity to win this game but needs to win the turnover battle. The Aggies rank 102nd nationally in turnover margin and have generated only eight takeaways this year. Alabama is on the other end of the spectrum in turnover battle, ranking fourth nationally and picking up 23 takeaways so far. If Texas A&M can’t generate any turnovers, its odds of winning will be dramatically decreased. The Aggies don’t need four or five takeaways, but they have to pickup a couple of short-field situations for the offense.

Final Analysis

Nick Saban will have Alabama prepared but there’s still the worry of a letdown from the huge victory at LSU. With a flat performance possible in the first quarter, Texas A&M could have a chance to jump out to an early lead. However, Alabama will eventually take control of this game in the first half. Quarterback AJ McCarron should be able to take advantage of an Aggies’ secondary that ranks 70th nationally in pass defense, while the rushing attack will wear down the front seven. Texas A&M’s spread offense will give Alabama a few problems in the first half, but the Crimson Tide eventually find the right answers on defense and pull away in the final two quarters.

Final Prediction: Alabama 31, Texas A&M 20

by Steven Lassan


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<p> Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Texas A&amp;M Aggies Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-11

Every Friday for entertainment purposes only, I will bring you my top college football picks against the spread. I do not condone, approve or encourage gambling on sports in any way. But if you are a fan of football — college or pro — and you don't think gambling has played a huge role in the growth and popularity of the sport, then you are simply being ignorant. And behind closed doors, the powers that be understand the impact betting has had on the game of football.

2012 Record Against The Spread: 45-28
Last Week: 5-1

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Utah (-1.5) at Washington
Every now and then a line shocks you as an analyst. And a Washington team with wins over previously unbeatens Stanford and last week Oregon State as a home underdog to a team that is 4-5 makes no sense at all. Travis Wilson has been solid at quarterback for the Utes but he is a freshman going on the road into one of the nastiest road venues west of the Mississippi. Washington has allowed more than 17 points at home only once (to USC, 24) and is 4-1 at The Link. Washington will win outright — just like it did last year 31-14 in Salt Lake City. Prediction: Washington +1.5

Georgia (-14.5) at Auburn
Rumors are swirling on the Plains that Gene Chizik will be out after the Alabama game and the Dawgs must win to clinch the SEC East. This game was an absolute blood bath last season (45-7) and Auburn has only gotten worse. With so much on the line, despite some injuries on offense, Aaron Murray and Mark Richt won’t let the Tigers sneak up. Georgia rolls. Prediction: Georgia -14.5

UCLA (-15.5) at Washington State
Yes, the Bruins can be schizophrenic, especially on the road. But it feels like they have turned a corner under star freshman quarterback Brett Hundley — who trails only Johnny Manziel for total offense by a freshman. Washington State has totaled 76 yards rushing in six Pac-12 games, rushing for negative yards four times. They are historically bad and UCLA is surging after three straight quality wins. Prediction: UCLA -15.5

Arizona State (+9) at USC
I’m all over the West Coast this weekend. USC has many reasons to seek revenge this weekend. Arizona State embarrassed the Trojans last season on national television and the Ducks (as well as some sketchy reports following the game) did the same last weekend. USC could still win the conference and play in the Rose Bowl if it wins out, so Lane Kiffin will have his team focused against a defense that has allowed 124 points and 454.7 yards per game over its last three — all losses. Prediction: USC -9

Fresno State (-3) at Nevada
Other than Utah State’s unblemished record against the spread (10-0), the Bulldogs of Fresno State claim the nation’s next best mark of 9-1. Quarterback Derek Carr has been rolling of late as the offense has scored at least 42 points in three straight games. Nevada has a solid offense as well but has struggled of late to stop people. They allowed 39 points in a loss to San Diego State and 48 in a loss to Air Force in their last two. Prediction: Fresno State -3

Three road teams I like:

Louisville (-2.5) at Syracuse
Pitt (-3) at UConn
Northwestern (+10.5) at Michigan

- by Braden Gall


2012 Trends Against the Spread:

Undefeated ATS: Utah St (10-0)
Winless ATS: None

One Loss ATS: Fresno St (9-1), Kansas St (7-1-1), Northwestern (8-1)
One Win ATS: Idaho (1-8), Virginia (1-7-1)

Two Losses ATS: Ball St (8-2), Clemson (7-2), FAU (7-2), Kent St (7-2), Ole Miss (7-2), N. Illinois (8-2), Penn St (7-2), San Jose St (7-2), UNLV (8-2), Western Kentucky (7-2)

Two Wins ATS: Arkansas (2-7), Boston College (2-7), Central Michigan (2-7), Colorado St (2-7), UConn (2-5-2), Hawaii (2-6), Illinois (2-7), Iowa (2-7), Kentucky (2-8), UMass (2-7), Miami-OH (2-6-1), Nevada (2-7), NC State (2-6-1), USC (2-7), Southern Miss (2-7), Virginia Tech (2-7), West Virginia (2-6)

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<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 11</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-11-0

College football’s Week 11 slate is highlighted by a key matchup in the Pac-12 North (Oregon State visits Stanford), an intriguing showdown in the SEC West (Texas A&M travels to Alabama) and several key games in the Big Ten.

Oregon State (+5) at Stanford
Oregon is the clear favorite in the Pac-12 North, but Oregon State and Stanford are both 5–1 in the league and both teams still have a date with the Ducks. So the winner of this game will have an opportunity to play its way into the second Pac-12 title game. The other storyline is the quarterback situation at both schools. In Stanford’s 48–0 win over Colorado last week, redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan replaced Josh Nunes after two series and went on to complete 18-of-23 for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Coach David Shaw named Hogan as the starter earlier this week. At Oregon State, Cody Vaz has apparently taken over for Sean Mannion, who struggled in his one game back from a knee injury. Vaz, a junior, threw for 267 yards and three scores in a 10-point win over Arizona State on Saturday night. It’s rare that two teams this good are unsettled at quarterback this late in the season.
Stanford 30–27

Texas A&M (+13.5) at Alabama
After seeing a CBS promo for the Texas A&M-Alabama game, my 8-year-old son asked the following: “Do you think Johnny Football will gain a lot of yards against Alabama?” That’s a good question: Can Johnny Manziel, who threw for 311 yards and rushed for 129 in last week’s win at Mississippi State, do his thing against the mighty Crimson Tide? Much has been made of Manziel’s “struggles” against the top defenses he has faced, but he still averaged 268 yards of total offense in losses — by a total of 10 points — to Florida and LSU. Alabama is riding high after its thrilling win in Baton Rouge, but Nick Saban can’t be pleased that his defense gave up a season-high 435 yards — 232 more than its previous season average — to an LSU team that had averaged only 318.3 yards in its first four SEC games. The Crimson Tide can wrap up the SEC West title with a win.
Alabama 34–21

Wisconsin (+7) at Indiana
Amazingly, this game — between two teams with a combined nine overall losses — could determine who represents the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship Game. Ohio State (6–0 Big Ten) and Penn State (4–1) are the top two teams in the division, but both are ineligible to play in the title game due to NCAA sanctions. That leaves 3–2 Wisconsin, which is struggling through its worst season since 2008, and 2–3 Indiana, which has won four of it last 25 games vs. FBS competition, as the next best options. To its credit, IU is showing signs of significant improvement in Kevin Wilson’s second season in Bloomington. The Hoosiers flirted with upsets over Michigan State (lost 31–27) and Ohio State (lost 52–49) early last month before breaking through with two straight Big Ten wins, at Illinois and vs. Iowa at home. Wisconsin had a three-game winning streak snapped two weeks ago at home to Michigan State. The Badgers lost quarterback Joel Stave to a season-ending injury and will reportedly send out senior Curt Phillips, who has suffered three torn ACLs in his career.
Wisconsin 31–26

Penn State (+7) at Nebraska
Nebraska has seized control of the Leaders Division with consecutive wins over Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State. The Cornhuskers, 4–1 in the league, are one game up on both Northwestern and Michigan and now hold the tie-breaker over both teams. Last Saturday, Nebraska rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter to beat Michigan State in East Lansing. Quarterback Taylor Martinez was largely ineffective throwing the ball (16-of-36 for 160 yards with three INTs), but he rushed for 205 yards and two scores to lead a ground attack that totaled 313 yards on 40 attempts. Penn State rebounded from a 35–23 loss at home to Ohio State by drilling Purdue on the road 34–9. Matt McGloin had another big game, throwing for 321 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. McGloin will have to solve a Nebraska defense that has been very good against the pass. The Huskers rank eighth nationally in pass efficiency defense and fifth in passing yards allowed (156.0 ypg).
Nebraska 31–21

Kansas State (-7.5) at TCU
Kansas State held on to its No. 2 spot in the BCS standings after knocking off Oklahoma State 44–30 last weekend. But the big story in Manhattan is the health of Collin Klein, the Heisman frontrunner. Klein was forced out in the third quarter of the O-State game with an undisclosed injury that has been reported by some to be a concussion. His status for Saturday’s game in Fort Worth most likely won’t be known until game time. If Klein can’t go, redshirt freshman Daniel Sams will get the call. Sams completed 5-of-6 passes for 45 yards and ran for 20 yards in relief on Saturday. TCU has been playing with its No. 2 quarterback, Trevone Boykin, since early October. Boykin is 2–3 as a starter, with wins over Baylor and West Virginia, and losses to Iowa State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Last weekend, he completed only 12-of-29 passes, but those 12 completions went for 254 yards and two touchdowns to help the Horned Frogs upset West Virginia in Morgantown. TCU’s numbers are down on defense, but this team has shown it can score points in bunches vs. most Big 12 teams.
Kansas State 34–21

Northwestern (+11) at Michigan
Northwestern is 7–2 overall and had a double-digit lead in both of its losses — at Penn State (39–28) and vs. Nebraska (29–28). The Wildcats rank 13th nationally in rushing offense (237.6 ypg) thanks in part to the emergence of tailback Venric Mark. A junior who had only 23 carries in his first two seasons, Mark has rushed for 1,072 yards and nine scores on a healthy 6.5-yard average. Michigan has a dynamic playmaker of its own in Denard Robinson, but the senior quarterback missed all of last week’s game and a large portion of the Nebraska game with an elbow injury. He is expected to play this week, but the injury could be a factor for the rest of the season. Michigan is still alive in the Legends Division race, but the Wolverines will need some help; they are tied with Nebraska at 4–1. but the Huskers have the tie-breaker and have an easier schedule.
Michigan 33–24

Florida State (-13.5) at Virginia Tech (Thu)
This figured to be the game of the year in the ACC, a showdown against the overwhelming favorites in the Atlantic and Coastal. Well, Florida State has done its part, with a 5–1 league record and a top-10 national ranking. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, has been a colossal disappointment, with an overall record of 4–5 and a 2–3 mark in the ACC. The Hokies’ five losses are the most since the 2003 team went 8–5; they haven’t lost six games in a season since 1992 (2–8–1). Virginia Tech hasn’t been horrible in any one area (though it ranks 91st in turnover margin), but the Hokies haven’t been good at anything, either. The usually stout defense has given up 30 points or more four times, and the running attack has been average at best. It will be a surprise if Florida State does not win this game by a comfortable margin.
Florida State 35–21

Vanderbilt (+3) at Ole Miss
It’s a huge game for two programs searching for their sixth win of the season. Vanderbilt has controlled this series of late, winning five of the last seven overall, including two straight in Oxford. Last year, the Commodores won 30–7 in Nashville for their most decisive win vs. Ole Miss since beating the Rebs 91–0 in 1915. This, however, is a much-improved Ole Miss team that has made significant progress on both sides of the ball under first-year coach Hugh Freeze. The key to this game could be quarterback Bo Wallace, a Tennessee native who is a threat with his arm and his legs. Wallace, however, has thrown nine interceptions in the Rebs’ six games against AQ conference teams. Vanderbilt must win the turnover battle and limit Wallace in the zone read — something that has been a problem for the Commodores at times.
Vanderbilt 24–20

West Virginia (+7.5) at Oklahoma State
Things have changed quite a bit in the past month for West Virginia. In early October, the Mountaineers were 5–0 and ranked in the top five in both major polls. Now, WVU is 5–3, unranked and a 7.5-point underdog to an Oklahoma State team that also has three losses. The Mountaineers have allowed an average of 532.8 yards and 50.2 points in their five Big 12 games. Those numbers might be even worse after this week’s trip to Stillwater. Oklahoma State, despite injuries at the quarterback position, is averaging 509.2 yards in its five Big 12 games, second only to Baylor (589.2 ypg). The Cowboys likely won’t know who will start at quarterback until late this week; true freshman Wes Lunt, the opening day starter, was sidelined in the Kansas State game with an undisclosed injury. Junior Clint Shelf, in his first appearance of the season, stepped in and completed 16-of-27 for 233 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh was lost for the season with a torn ACL three weeks ago.
Oklahoma State 48–40

Louisville (-3) at Syracuse
Louisville is ranked No. 9 in the latest BCS standings, but the Cardinals — other than being 9–0 — don’t really have the résumé of a top-10 team. They beat FIU (2–8) by seven points, Southern Miss (0–9) by four points and South Florida (3–6) by two points. They have two solid wins, over North Carolina and Cincinnati, but those were by a combined eight points and both were at home. Syracuse is playing pretty well despite its overall mark of 4–5. Each of the Orange’s five losses has come to an AQ conference team that currently has a winning record. Syracuse’s strength is throwing the ball. Louisville’s strength — at least one of them — is stopping the pass. Whoever wins this battle will have a great chance to win the game. Go Orange in the upset.
Syracuse 27–21

Last week: 8–2 overall (5–5 against the spread)
Season: 66–34 overall (51–49 against the spread)


<p> College football’s Week 11 slate is highlighted by a key matchup in the Pac-12 North (Oregon State visits Stanford), an intriguing showdown in the SEC West (Texas A&amp;M travels to Alabama) and several key games in the Big Ten.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 04:59
Path: /college-basketball/shaquille-oneal-big-namesake

Shaquille O’Neal was a one-of-a-kind talent with a one-of-a-kind name when he burst onto the national scene at LSU in the early 1990s. Now, two decades later, the name is no longer a novelty. In fact, there are dozens of players in college athletics named Shaq — all of whom were born following O’Neal’s rise to prominence.

We looked at every roster in the Athlon Sports college football and basketball magazines from 1995, the year The Diesel played in his first NBA Finals with the Orlando Magic, and there wasn’t a single player in the nation with the first name Shaq or Shaquille. Now, it’s becoming commonplace.

Here are some of the more prominent players named Shaq in collegiate athletics.

• Shaq Wilson: Senior linebacker at South Carolina.


Shaquille Thomas: Redshirt freshman basketball player at Cincinnati; top-100 national recruit in Class of 2011.

Shaq Lawson: True freshman defensive end for Clemson; top-40 defensive line recruit in Class of 2012.


Shaq Thompson: True freshman safety at the University of Washington; No. 6 overall recruit in Class of 2012.


Shaquille Cleare: True freshman basketball player at Maryland; top-40 national recruit in Class of 2012.


Shaquille Johnson: True freshman basketball player at Auburn; top-150 national recruit in Class of 2012.


Shaquille Richardson: Junior cornerback at the University of Arizona.


• Shaq RolandTrue freshman wide receiver for South Carolina; top-50 national recruit in Class of 2012.


Shaqquan Aarron: Top-50 Class of 2014 basketball prospect.


Shaquile Carr: Top-75 Class of 2014 basketball prospect.

<p> Shaquille O'Neal: The Big Namesake</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 04:53
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-preview-and-predictions

The college basketball season starts today, so it's time for picks. Not just for the Final Four and top players and coaches, but also who we think who will thrive, flop and surprise.

Here are the picks from the Athlon editorial staff:

PICKS Mitch Light Braden Gall David Fox Nathan Rush Mark Ross Patrick Snow
National Champ Indiana Louisville Ohio State Indiana Indiana Louisville
Final Four Kansas Duke Arizona Kentucky Arizona Indiana
  Kentucky Indiana Indiana Memphis Kansas Kansas
  Louisville San Diego State Kansas UCLA Louisville Syracuse
Surprise team Colorado Tennessee Tennessee Oklahoma State Pittsburgh West Virginia
Flop team Michigan Michigan Syracuse Duke Syracuse Duke
Player of the Year Cody Zeller, Indiana Mike Moser, UNLV Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State Cody Zeller, Indiana Cody Zeller, Indiana Cody Zeller, Indiana
Top Freshman Nerlens Noel, Kentucky Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Top Transfer Rotnei Clarke, Butler Alex Oriakhi, Missouri Dez Wells, Maryland Alex Oriakhi, Missouri Ryan Harrow, Kentucky Aaric Murray, West Virginia
Coach of the Year Sean Miller, Arizona Tom Crean, Indiana Jim Larranaga, Miami John Calipari, Kentucky Tom Crean, Indiana John Beilein, Michigan
Breakout Player James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee Adonis Thomas, Memphis James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina Ben McLemore, Kansas
Most interesting conference Atlantic 10 Big Ten ACC SEC Atlantic 10 Big 12
Mid-major darling Drexel South Dakota State Davidson Lehigh Drexel LIU-Brooklyn
Next major coach to retire Jim Boeheim, Syracuse Bob Huggins, West Virginia Jim Boeheim, Syracuse Larry Brown, SMU Jim Boeheim, Syracuse Roy Williams, North Carolina
New coach to thrive Larry Eustachy, Colorado State John Cooper, Miami (Ohio) Jim Christian, Ohio Larry Brown, SMU Larry Eustachy, Colorado State Larry Eustachy, Colorado State
Indiana, Louisville or Kentucky Indiana Louisville Indiana Indiana Indiana Louisville
Arizona or UCLA Arizona Arizona Arizona UCLA Arizona Arizona
Michigan or Ohio State Michigan Ohio State Ohio State Michigan Michigan Michigan
Preseason All-America Team Conference Realignment Primer
Athlon College Basketball Top 25: Athlon Conference Previews
1. Indiana 1. Big Ten 
2. Louisville 2. Big East
3. Kentucky 3. ACC
4. Kansas 4. Big 12
5. Syracuse 5. SEC
6. Michigan 6. Pac-12
7. Arizona 7. Mountain West
8. Ohio State 8. Atlantic 10
9. Duke 9. West Coast
10. Michigan State 10. Missouri Valley
11. NC State 11. Conference USA
12. UCLA 12. Colonial
13. UNLV 13. Sun Belt
14. North Carolina 14. MAC
15. San Diego State 15. Horizon
16. Missouri  
17. Baylor  
18. Memphis  
19. Notre Dame  
20. Florida  

<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 21:46
Path: /golf/pga-tour-2012-end-year-awards

With this week's Children's Miracle Network Classic, another PGA Tour season draws to a close, meaning that it's time to hand out some hardware.

Player of the Year — Rory McIlroy
Rory doesn't need any accolades from us for vindication; if you believe the unconfirmed reports, he's already cashed in on his remarkable season with a $250 million deal from Nike. Judging from his 2012 season, it'll be money well spent for the Swoosh. The world's No. 1 player enjoyed stunning success on both sides of the pond, leading both the PGA and European Tours in earnings (provided he has a solid finish in this weekend's Singapore Open). His four wins were the most in a single season by any player not named Tiger Woods since 2005. He won the PGA Championship by eight strokes, then won two FedExCup playoff events (the Deutsche Bank and BMW). Throw in girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, and the guy's pretty much got it all right now.
Runner-up: Brandt Snedeker
Snedeker won the FedExCup on the strength of one of the greatest displays of putting that the game has seen. On one day in September, Sneds won the Cup and the $10 million payout along with the Tour Championship and its $1.4 million winner's check. Not a bad day's work.

Round of the Year and Worst Collapse
These two unfolded concurrently, so we present them as one category. The agony and the ecstasy of golf were on full display in the final round of the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and when it was over, Ernie Els had his second Claret Jug and fourth major, and Adam Scott had first-hand knowledge of what it feels like to be Greg Norman. Or Jason Dufner. On a day when the field was retreating like Napoleon from Russia, Els posted a back-9 4-under 32 for a final-round 68 in the stiffening breezes of Royal Lytham, rolling in a clutch birdie on the 72nd hole before grabbing a sandwich and watching Scott implode with bogeys on the final four holes. It was an utterly shocking turn of events on a day that seemed like a Scott coronation until the heartbreaking conclusion.
Runner-up: The U.S. and European Teams on Ryder Cup Sunday
In Ryder Cup singles play, the U.S. team gagged away a 10-6 lead, losing the Cup 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 to an inspired European team that made every clutch putt down the stretch.

Shot of the Year — Bubba Watson, The Masters
After a day that included a double eagle and two holes in one, Bubba's shot in the playoff at 10 — where he curved a hook off the pine straw to within 15 feet — will be the one they'll still be talking about at the 2050 Champions Dinner.
Runner-up: Louis Oosthuizen
Before Masters Sunday 2012, there had been 19,809 rounds at The Masters, but this was a first: a double eagle at No. 2. Had Oostie gone on to win, his shot would rank No. 1; as it is, he'll have to settle for second in The Masters and second on our list.

Best Performance — Rory McIlroy, PGA Championship
Twenty-one years after the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island brought the world's greatest players to their knees at the 1991 Ryder Cup in the famed "War by the Shore," Rory McIlroy turned the tables on Pete Dye's seaside creation, subduing the Ocean Course and an elite field in winning his second major championship in two years. In posting 13-under and winning by eight strokes, McIlroy reprised his eight-shot win at the 2011 U.S. Open, becoming the first player in golf history to earn his first two major wins in such dominant fashion.

Round of the Year (Non-Major Edition) — Tommy Gainey, McGladrey Classic
You might not have noticed, but Two Gloves won his first Tour event by sprinting to the finish line with a final-round 60 at Sea Island. Seven shots behind when the day began, the former insulation specialist flirted with a 59, needing only 24 putts and had seven straight 3's on his card on the back nine.

Biggest Disappointment — Tiger Woods
It's tough to call a three-win season a disappointment, but such is life for Tiger Woods, who failed to contend in a major (unless you count the British Open, where he finished T3 but was a non-factor on the final day) and seems stuck on 14 in his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' career record. On the upside, he did pass Jack in the all-time wins column and now stands at 74, to Jack's 73. More alarming for Tiger is his lack of final-round mojo; his final round average at the four majors in 2012 was 73.

Young, Annoying Overachiever of the Year — Tianlang Guan
The 14-year-old from China won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to earn an invitation to the 2013 Masters. The kid's probably shorter than Adam Scott's belly putter, but he'll be at Augusta in April with Rory, Tiger, Phil and the rest.

Controversy of the Year — The Belly Putter
Speaking of belly putters, it's a debate that seems destined to reach a head soon, especially since two of this year's majors were won by players using long putters — Webb Simpson (U.S. Open) and Ernie Els (British Open). Tiger Woods has finally weighed in, telling the R&A that the putter should be equal or shorter than the shortest club in the bag. But if they were such an advantage, wouldn't everybody be using them? Whatever the case, we need a definitive word from golf's governing bodies, which we'll probably get in 2013.

- by Rob Doster
Follow me on Twitter @AthlonDoster

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Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 12:45
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-vs-virginia-tech-hokies-preview-and-prediction

What a difference a couple of months can make. In the preseason, the Nov. 8 showdown between Florida State and Virginia Tech was hyped as a potential preview of the ACC Championship. There’s still plenty at stake for both teams but nothing close to what most expected in August.

Virginia Tech was picked by most to win the Coastal Division but has been one of college football’s most underachieving teams. The Hokies are 4-5, and their wins have come against Georgia Tech, Austin Peay, Duke and Bowling Green – not exactly banner victories. Virginia Tech’s ACC Coastal title hopes are almost finished, which means the top goal for the rest of the way is to get bowl eligible. Thursday night’s matchup against Florida State is the toughest remaining game on the schedule but the season finale against Virginia is not a guaranteed win.

Florida State’s national title hopes ended after a 17-16 loss to NC State, but this team has been on a roll since that defeat. The Seminoles have allowed only 34 points over the last three weeks and are in the driver’s seat to win the Atlantic Division. With Clemson just a game back, the next two weeks in ACC play are a must-win situation for Florida State.

What to Watch in Florida State vs. Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech’s rushing attack
Replacing David Wilson has been more challenging than most expected. The Hokies are averaging 165.2 rushing yards per game in ACC play but most of the production has come from quarterback Logan Thomas. The junior leads the team with 422 rushing yards and six touchdowns. J.C. Coleman and Michael Holmes are the Hokies’ top two leaders at running back and have combined for just 783 and eight touchdowns. Virginia Tech can’t simply rely on the running backs to generate production, as Thomas is the team’s best option. However, the Hokies have a tough matchup to move the ball on the ground, with Florida State’s defense ranking third nationally against the run. Virginia Tech has been inconsistent in generating a ground attack and it cannot afford to fall into third-and-long situations against the Seminoles.

Logan Thomas vs. Florida State’s defense
Virginia Tech’s best hope at winning this game relies on the shoulders of quarterback Logan Thomas. The junior has already thrown more interceptions (12) than he did all of last year (10) but is on pace to rush for more yards and throw for more touchdowns. Thomas has struggled the last two games, tossing four picks and just one score. Florida State ranks first nationally in total defense and only one opponent has scored more than 20 points this season. Virginia Tech’s offensive line will also be under fire, especially with likely All-ACC ends Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine coming off the edge. Thomas can’t win this game on his own, so it’s important for the line to give him time to throw, as well as open up lanes on designed runs.

Considering both teams rank in the bottom half of the ACC in turnover margin, this is one area that could play a large role in the outcome of Thursday night’s game. Florida State has lost 14 turnovers, while Virginia Tech has been more generous in giving the ball away with 19 turnovers. Only two of Logan Thomas’ interceptions have come at home for the Hokies and it’s important for him to continue that trend on Thursday. 

Virginia Tech’s vs. Florida State’s offense
While the Hokies have had some trouble getting their offense on track, the defense has been solid. This unit has experienced a few ups and downs but ranks 40th nationally in yards allowed and 31st in pass defense. Florida State’s offense is averaging 54 points per game at home. However, it has managed only 26.3 on the road. The schedule has been tougher away from Tallahassee, but it’s notable considering the Seminoles’ loss to NC State in Raleigh. Virginia Tech’s active defensive line and secondary should present some problems for Florida State’s offense on Thursday night.

Final Analysis

Virginia Tech is 11-3 in Thursday night home games on ESPN. Even though the Hokies have struggled, don’t be surprised if they play well in this game. This one should be closer than most expect, but Florida State’s defense holds Virginia Tech in check in the second half to pull away for the win.

Final Prediction: Florida State 27, Virginia Tech 17

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 11 Preview and Predictions

<p> Florida State Seminoles vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 10:22
Path: /college-football/12-statistical-highlights-lsu-vs-mississippi-state-games

LSU and Mississippi State will clash Saturday in Baton Rouge in a battle of 7-2 teams. The Tigers are coming off a heartbreaking loss to Alabama, while the Bulldogs have dropped two straight (Alabama and Texas A&M) after beginning the season 7-0. LSU has dominated this series lately, winning 19 of the last 20 games. Here are 12 statistical highlights (LSU’s current win streak over MSU) on both the history and current matchup of these two SEC foes.

105: Games in this series, with LSU leading 69-33-3. The Tigers have played Mississippi State more than any other opponent, while Bulldogs have only faced Ole Miss more times than LSU.

20: Games in this series played outside of Baton Rouge or Starkville. The other locations were Columbus, Miss. (1906, 1910), Gulfport, Miss. (1911), Jackson, Miss. (1926-30, 1958, 1962-63, 1971, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1986, 1990) and Monroe, La. (1932-33).

452-144: LSU’s scoring advantage during the Tigers’ current 12-game winning streak in the series.

5: The longest wining streak for Mississippi State in this series. It took place from 1980-1984 under coach Emory Bellard.

18-1: Record for LSU’s Les Miles following a loss. His only time losing back-to-back games was in November of 2008, when the Tigers dropped consecutive decisions to Ole Miss and Alabama.

1991: The last time Mississippi State won in Tiger Stadium, a 28-19 victory with the Bulldogs being led by quarterback Sleepy Robinson and running back Kenny Roberts in coach Jackie Sherrill’s first season at MSU. It’s also the last time this game took place as late as November until this year.

248: Yards receiving by LSU’s Todd Kinchen in that 1991 loss. That mark set a then SEC record.

1896: The first meeting in the series takes place in Baton Rouge, a 52-0 LSU victory.

27: Wins for Mississippi State in 27 games under Dan Mullen when the Bulldogs were leading going into the fourth quarter.

15: Games in this series when LSU has topped the 40-point mark. Mississippi State has scored more than 40 twice, a 55-31 win in 1980 and a 45-26 victory in 1983.

1999: The last time Mississippi State beat LSU, a 17-16 decision in Starkville. A 1-yard touchdown run by Rod Gibson was the game-winner with less than two minutes to go.

3: Games in this series from 1934 to 1970 played outside of Baton Rouge. Those three (1958, 1962-63) took place in Jackson, Miss.

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> 12 Statistical Highlights from LSU vs. Mississippi State Games</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/indianapolis-colts-vs-jacksonville-jaguars-preview-and-prediction

Two AFC South teams with drastically different 2012 results will clash on Thursday Night Football, when the Jacksonville Jaguars host the Indianapolis Colts at 8:20 p.m. EST on the NFL Network. The solid play of No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck and the inspiration of coach Chuck Pagano, who is currently battling leukemia, has the 5-3 Colts in contention for a playoff spot. Conversely, the 1-7 Jaguars have lost five in a row and are in search of their first victory since winning in Indianapolis on September 23.
When the Indianapolis Colts have the ball:
Luck has been as advertised since taking over as the franchise quarterback. Despite a low completion percentage and a mediocre passer rating of 79.0, Luck already has four games with over 300 yards passing (tying former Colts QB Peyton Manning’s rookie record) and he set the all-time single game rookie record with 433 yards passing against the Dolphins last week. Luck is also tied for fourth (with Manning) in the NFL with 2,404 passing yards on the season. One of the biggest keys to Luck’s and the Colts’ success has been veteran wideout Reggie Wayne, who leads the NFL with 835 receiving yards.
The Jacksonville defense has struggled this year, ranking 29th in the league in total yards (allowing 392.9 per contest) and 26th in scoring (27.4 points per game). Besides a suspect run defense, the Jaguars biggest problem has been generating pressure on opposing signal callers. Jacksonville is dead last in the NFL with a meager eight sacks in eight games, and Jags defenders have compiled only nine takeaways this season. Despite giving up 437 total yards in the Colts win in September, it was the only time this season that a Jacksonville foe did not reach the 20-point mark.
When the Jacksonville Jaguars have the ball:
The picture is not any better for the Jacksonville offense, which ranks dead last in the league with a putrid average of only 254.4 yards and 14.6 points per game. The Jaguars have been hurt greatly by the absence of intrepid running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who will miss his third straight game because of a foot injury. His backup, Rashad Jennings, has totaled 148 yards on 50 carries as the lead option over the last three games. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has had a rough go in his second season, throwing for nine touchdowns and five interceptions while being sacked 18 times.
The Indianapolis defense is adjusting to a new system, but there has been improvement as the seasons has progressed. The Colts rank 18th in the league with 352.3 yards allowed per contest, but they have only given up 46 combined points in the last three games — all wins. One area where Indy must improve is in causing turnovers, as the Colts have a league-low three takeaways in eight games. Indianapolis should benefit immensely from the Jags not having Jones-Drew, who has torched the Colts many times including 177 yards rushing earlier this season.
Key Factor:
The Jaguars have been awful at home this year, and they must find away to limit Wayne and keep this game low-scoring. The bad news is that Luck found other weapons in last week’s win over Miami, with both T.Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery eclipsing the 100-yard mark in receiving. The Colts have rallied around Pagano’s fight, even shaving their heads this week to support their coach. While Jacksonville should play desperately hard on national television, look for the Indy magic and the solid play of Luck to continue.
Colts 23 Jaguars 16

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 05:30
Path: /college-football/sec-week-11-preview-and-predictions

Georgia can secure its second straight SEC East title with a win at Auburn. If the Bulldogs stumble, Florida, which has already concluded its SEC season (7–1), would make the trip to Atlanta. Alabama can wrap up the West with a victory at home against Texas A&M.

SEC’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 11

1. Can Johnny Manziel thrive against an elite defense?
Much has been made of John Manziel’s “struggles” against the top defenses he has faced, but he still averaged 268 yards of total offense in losses — by a total of eight points — to Florida and LSU. Now, he gets a stab at the mighty Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Last week, Nick Saban’s team showed signs of weakness — the Tide gave up a season-high 435 yards — in a 21–17 win in Baton Rouge, but this is still one of the top two or three defenses in the country. Manziel is fresh off a brilliant performance in Texas A&M’s 38–13 win at Mississippi State. He completed 30-of-36 passes for 311 yards and added 129 yards rushing and two scores on the ground. It was the fourth time this season that he has had at least 275 yards passing and 100 yards rushing. Manziel will be the second elite dual-threat quarterback that Alabama has played against this season. In the opener, the Tide shut down Michigan’s Denard Robinson, holding him to 227 yards of total offense, including a net of only 27 on the ground. Manziel might not be as electric running the ball — though it’s close — but he has proven to be a better passer than Robinson.

2. Can Alabama play with enough emotion this week?
Alabama remained unbeaten with a 21–17 win in Baton Rouge last Saturday night — but it was far from easy. The Crimson Tide expended a ton of energy in one of the most emotional regular-season games in recent memory. AJ McCarron, the winning quarterback, was crying on the bench before the game was even over. Nick Saban, usually one of the most stoic coaches in the game, was visibly moved during his postgame interview. True, this was only one win. But there is no denying its importance. Now, only seven days later, Saban must have the Tide ready — both physically and emotionally — to play a very good Texas A&M team that will demand their attention on both sides of the ball. Saban is a master at keeping his team focused, but it won’t be a surprise if Alabama is a bit flat this week when the Aggies roll into town.

3. Was that the real Zach Mettenberger?
There are no moral victories at LSU — that’s obvious. There were, however, some positives to come out of the Tigers’ 21–17 loss to Alabama. For the first time since he stepped foot on campus, Zach Mettenberger played like a high-level SEC quarterback. The strong-armed junior — who many expected to provide an upgrade at the quarterback position — had been a huge disappointment through the first two-thirds of the season. Prior to the Alabama game, Mettenberger had completed only 46.2 percent of his passes with one touchdown against SEC competition. What was expected to be a strength had become a liability. But somehow, some way, Mettenberger enjoyed the game of his life against the Crimson Tide. He completed 24-of-35 for 298 yards and one touchdown. He made several key throws to keep drives alive and was a big reason the Tigers converted 10-of-20 on third down — an amazing stat against a defense as strong as Alabama’s. This begs the question: Was this Mettenberger’s breakthrough performance or was it simply a (positive) blip on what will be an inconsistent career? We’ll find out over the next year-and-a-half, and his first test comes on Saturday against Mississippi State in Baton Rouge.

4. Will South Carolina snap its skid vs. Arkansas?
South Carolina has emerged as one of the top programs in the SEC in recent years. Dating back to the start of the 2010 season, the Gamecocks are 16–7 in the league, highlighted by their first-ever SEC East title in 2010. However, there is one thing South Carolina has been unable to accomplish of late — beat Arkansas, or more specifically, be competitive against Arkansas. The Hogs have won three straight in the series, the last two in convincing fashion against very good Carolina teams. Two years ago, Ryan Mallet, Knile Davis & Co. rolled up 443 yards of offense in a 41¬–20 victory in Columbia. Last season, Tyler Wilson and friends outgained the Gamecocks 435-to-207 en route to a 44–28 win in Fayetteville. Now, it’s time for payback. South Carolina is a two-touchdown favorite at home against an Arkansas team that is 4–5 overall and 2–3 in the SEC.

5. Can a bad defense (Tennessee) stop a bad offense (Missouri)?
Tennessee’s historically bad defense is coming off its worst game of the season. The Volunteers gave up an astounding 721 yards of offense to a Troy team that had 381 yards the previous week in a loss to FAU. For the season, the Vols rank last in the league in both yards allowed per game (483.1) and yards allowed per play (6.31). This week, Tennessee meets a struggling Missouri offense that has scored 15 points or less in four of its last five SEC games. James Franklin is back at quarterback for the Tigers, but he threw four interceptions in a 14–7 loss at Florida last week. Injuries have sabotaged Franklin’s first season in the SEC, starting with a shoulder issue in the spring and then continuing with a knee injury suffered against Vanderbilt in early October. Last season, Franklin rushed for 981 yards and 15 touchdowns; this year he has netted only 104 yards on the ground and has yet to run for a touchdown. Missouri clearly needs Franklin to be at his best (both running and passing) to succeed, even against a defense as bad as Tennessee’s.

6. Does Georgia have enough weapons at wide receiver to be a factor down the stretch?
Georgia is the national title contender no one is talking about. The Bulldogs are 8–1 overall and ranked No. 5 in the latest BCS standings. The Dawgs, however, have some issues at wide receiver that could hinder their ability to remain in the BCS title chase. Marlon Brown, who shares the team lead in receptions (27) and ranks second in receiving yards (469), was lost for the season with a torn ACL vs. Ole Miss. Earlier this season, Michael Bennett, who had 24 catches and four touchdowns in five games, went down with an ACL injury as well. The Dawgs still have quality at the position — Tavarres King has 27 catches for 551 yards and Malcolm Mitchell has 26 for 358 — but they are lacking in quantity. “We still have some playmakers,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said this week. “But Marlon and Michael were just two outstanding football players . … And they actually had a nice physicality to them at that position. We’ll miss that. Other guys are just going to have to step up and get after it.” Among the “other guys” with an opportunity to take on a larger role are junior Rantavious Wooten, who has 12 catches for 154 yards, and Chris Conley, a sophomore who has seven receptions for 84 yards.

7. Can Jonathan Wallace get the job done against an SEC defense?
Auburn true freshman Jonathan Wallace made his first start at quarterback last week and received a passing grade from the coaches for his work in the Tigers’ 42–7 win over New Mexico State. Wallace, who had been used almost exclusively in Wildcat packages earlier in the season, completed 9-of-16 passes for 164 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Surprisingly, he only ran for nine yards on three attempts. This week, the Phenix City, Ala., native will face an SEC defense for the first time as a starting quarterback when Georgia travels to Jordan-Hare Stadium. “It’s going to be a completely different issue,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “The speed and intensity in which they blitz and move around will be completely different.” Wallace played well in relief two weeks ago vs. Texas A&M, completing 6-of-9 for 122 yards and two touchdowns while adding 71 yards on the ground.

8. Can Vanderbilt win again in Oxford?
Much to the dismay of the Rebel faithful, Vanderbilt has controlled this series of late, winning five of the last seven overall, including two straight in Oxford. In 2008, Ole Miss outgained Vanderbilt 385-to-202 yet lost 23–17 due in large part to Jevan Snead’s four interceptions. Two years, ago, one of the worst Vanderbilt teams in recent history (at least statistically) beat Jeremiah Masoli & Co. 28–14 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Ole Miss’ lone win since 2006 came in Nashville in ’09 by a score of 23–7. This Saturday’s game will be the first time since 1967 these two teams have played in November. In 2001, they played on Dec. 1 after their scheduled game was postponed due to the 9/11 attacks.

9. Can Mississippi State stop the bleeding?
Just two weeks ago, Mississippi State was 7–0 and dreaming of a special season. Now, after two losses by a combined score of 76–20, the Bulldogs are 7–2 with a trip to LSU looming. In the past two weeks, MSU has dropped from 48th to 73rd nationally in total offense and from 25th to 50th in total defense. There is no shame in losing decisively at Alabama, but the Bulldogs were alarmingly uncompetitive at home against Texas A&M. The Aggies jumped out to a 24–0 lead at the half and outgained MSU 693-to-310. Mississippi State only ran 57 offensive plays, compared to 97 by Texas A&M. The task this week will be to do something that no Bulldog team has done since 1991 — win in Baton Rouge.

10. Can Florida flex its offensive muscles against UL Lafayette?
It’s hard to find too much fault with a team that concluded its SEC season with a 7–1 record in league play. But the Florida coaching staff has to be a bit concerned with the Gators’ offense. In SEC games, UF ranked 11th in the league in total offense, averaging only 328.8 yards per game. The Gators finished the SEC season with 183 yards against South Carolina (in a lopsided win), 266 against Georgia and 276 against Missouri. They had 325 yards or fewer in five of eight league games. This type of production (or lack thereof) was good enough to go 7–1 in the nation’s most difficult conference, but at some point Florida needs to start scoring points with regularity. This week’s opponent, UL Lafayette, gave up 50 points at home two weeks ago to Arkansas State and 65 points in a Week 3 loss at Oklahoma State. It will be a disappointment if Florida doesn’t score at least 40 points on Saturday.


Week 11 SEC Predictions David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light

Texas A&M (+14) at Alabama

Texas A&M 28-24 Alabama 30-21 Alabama 31-20 Alabama 34-21

Arkansas (+14) at S. Carolina

S. Carolina 31-14 S. Carolina 30-24 S. Carolina 34-20 S. Carolina 33-17

Missouri (+3) at Tennessee

Tennessee 37-28 Tennessee 31-30 Tennessee 34-27

Tennessee 34-24

ULL (+26.5) at Florida

Florida 28-10 Florida 24-10 Florida 41-13

Florida 41-10

Georgia (-15) at Auburn

Georgia 35-7 Georgia 34-14 Georgia 38-13

Georgia 34-10

Miss. State (+14.5) at LSU

LSU 17-14 LSU 21-14 LSU 27-10

LSU 24-3

Vanderbilt (+3) at Ole Miss

Ole Miss 24-14 Ole Miss 30-27 Vanderbilt 27-24 Vanderbilt 24-20
Last week 6-2 8-0 8-0 8-0
Season 67-18 74-11 74-11 72-13

<p> Georgia can secure its second straight SEC East title with a win at Auburn. If the Bulldogs stumble, Florida, which has already concluded its SEC season (7–1), would make the trip to Atlanta. Alabama can wrap up the West with a victory at home against Texas A&amp;M.</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 05:11
Path: /college-football/acc-week-11-preview-and-predictions

With Miami's win over Virginia Tech last week, the race to win the ACC Coastal and Atlantic Division is starting to clear. The Hurricanes hold an edge in the Coastal, while the Seminoles still have a one-game edge on Clemson. Miami hits the road to play Virginia this Saturday and can tighten its grip on the Coastal with a victory. The Week 11 slate of ACC games doesn't feature much in the way of national excitement, but there's some solid matchups with North Carolina hosting Georgia Tech and Notre Dame visiting Boston College.

Other Week 11 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

ACC's Top Storylines for Week 11

Can Virginia Tech’s offense have success against Florida State?
With three games to go, it’s a surprise to see Virginia Tech sitting at 4-5 and in a fight just to get bowl eligible. The Hokies should be able to beat Boston College and Virginia in the final two weeks of the season to get to six wins. However, Thursday night’s matchup against Florida State is an opportunity to knock the Seminoles out of the ACC title game, along with erasing some of the disappointment from the first nine games of the season. For the Hokies to have any shot at beating Florida State, the offense will need its best effort of the year. And that’s easier said than done against a Seminoles’ defense ranked first nationally in yards allowed and third in scoring defense. Quarterback Logan Thomas has to be more careful with the ball (12 interceptions), while the offense also has to find a spark from the ground attack. Although Thomas recorded 323 total yards last week, he simply can’t carry this team on his own. The Thursday night crowd in Blacksburg should give Virginia Tech a little momentum. However, it will require a near-perfect effort to knock off the Seminoles.

Will Georgia Tech’s defense have an answer for North Carolina’s offense?
The recent series between the Yellow Jackets and Tar Heels has been a one-sided affair. Georgia Tech has won six out of the last seven games, including a 35-28 shootout in Atlanta last season. The Yellow Jackets desperately need this game to have a shot at getting bowl eligible, while the Tar Heels look to build on Larry Fedora’s successful first season. Georgia Tech’s defense has struggled all season long, allowing 28 points and an average of 394.7 yards per game. As if the statistics weren’t bad enough for head coach Paul Johnson, things may not get much better this Saturday. The Yellow Jackets have to find an answer for North Carolina’s offense, which is scoring nearly 40 points a game. Running back Giovani Bernard has emerged as a fringe Heisman candidate and has at least 135 rushing yards in each of his last four games. Considering Georgia Tech’s offense can’t really afford to fall behind 21-0, the defense has to make some early stops, as well as get pressure on quarterback Bryn Renner. The recent trend in this series suggests there should be plenty of points for both teams, but a struggling Yellow Jackets’ defense needs to have a flawless effort to help earn the victory on Saturday.

Will Miami move one step closer to winning the Coastal?
Thanks to last week’s 30-12 victory over Virginia Tech, Miami is in the driver’s seat for the ACC Coastal title. With Duke on bye this week, the Hurricanes can’t clinch the division crown this Saturday, but they can move one step closer to playing for the conference title with a victory. Of course, this also depends on whether or not the school decides to self-impose a bowl ban this year. But for now, Miami is the favorite to represent the Coastal in Charlotte. The Hurricanes don’t have an easy path to an outright division title, especially since Virginia appears to be revitalized after a win over NC State last week. Miami has lost two out of its last three games in Charlottesville and will have to contend with an offense that scored 33 points last week. The Hurricanes rank 113th nationally in scoring defense but held North Carolina and Virginia Tech to just 30 combined points. Miami is the better team, but as the past few weeks have shown, anything can happen in the ACC.

Tevin Washington or Vad Lee?
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson went into last week’s game with an unsettled quarterback situation, and the Yellow Jackets left with no real clarity. Of course, it’s a lot easier to sort through a position battle when you are coming off a 33-13 victory. However, the quarterback battle will be under the spotlight even more this Saturday, especially as Georgia Tech’s offense will need to have a huge day against North Carolina. Tevin Washington started last week’s game and rushed for 30 yards and one touchdown on four attempts. Lee recorded 60 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and threw only two passes. Considering both quarterbacks had their moments last week, expect the same type of gameplan from Georgia Tech once again this Saturday. If Washington or Lee gets into a rhythm, the Yellow Jackets will probably ride the hot hand. However, Washington’s experience and Lee’s playmaking ability give Georgia Tech’s offense different looks. Expect both to play significant snaps against North Carolina.

Can NC State get back on track?
Even though the Wolfpack was coming off a 43-35 loss to rival North Carolina, no one could have expected what happened against Virginia. NC State was a double-digit favorite over the Cavaliers, yet suffered a crushing 33-6 defeat. The loss only amplified the grumblings in the fanbase over coach Tom O’Brien, but his future shouldn’t be in any real danger - unless NC State loses against Wake Forest or Boston College. The Wolfpack host the Demon Deacons this Saturday, which is an opportunity to get back on track after last week’s disappointing loss. Wake Forest’s passing attack threw for 293 yards against Boston College last week, which figures to test an NC State secondary allowing 269.2 yards per game.

Maryland’s quarterback carousel
Considering Shawn Petty spent most of the season at linebacker, it’s hard to criticize his performance against Georgia Tech last week. The freshman completed 9 of 18 throws for 115 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 24 rushing yards on 17 attempts. The Terrapins won’t ask a lot of Petty but they might need a little more this week. Maryland has to travel to Death Valley to take on Clemson, which has an offense averaging 42.7 points a game. Petty should be more comfortable with another week to take snaps as the No. 1 quarterback, but it’s a lot to ask a converted linebacker to win a shootout in his second start.

Bowl eligibility?
Wake Forest and Georgia Tech won’t be playing against each other this Saturday, but bowl representatives and ACC officials will have their eyes on these two teams. The Demon Deacons need just one victory to get bowl eligible and face NC State, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt to close out the year. The Yellow Jackets need two wins to get bowl eligible, and their path to six wins is very narrow, especially with road trips to North Carolina and Georgia still to come. With only three teams eligible for the postseason after 10 weeks, the ACC needs Wake Forest and Georgia Tech to get to six wins to be able to fill out its bowl allotment.

Will Maryland’s defense slow down Clemson’s offense?
With injuries taking a toll on the offense, it’s up to Maryland’s defense to carry this team the rest of the year. So far, Brian Stewart has proved to be a tremendous coordinator hire, with Maryland ranking 11th nationally in total defense and 33rd in points allowed. The Terrapins’ defense will have their hands full this week, taking on a Clemson offense averaging 42.7 points a game. The Tigers scored 56 points on this defense last year, but Maryland should be able to keep the total a little lower this season. In order for the Terrapins to win this game, they have to win the battle in the trenches. Maryland’s defensive line is averaging 2.8 sacks per game, and this group should be able to take advantage of an inexperienced Tigers’ offensive line. It’s not all about winning the battle up front, as the Terrapins will have to lock down on pass coverage, especially with Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins playing at an All-ACC level. There’s really no way to completely shut down Clemson’s offense. However, Maryland’s defense has to force a few turnovers and disrupt the timing by getting pressure on quarterback Tajh Boyd.

Frank Spaziani’s last chance?
With a 2-7 record this season and a 22-26 overall mark in his Boston College career, Frank Spaziani sits squarely on the hot seat. The Eagles have watched their win total decline in each year since 2009 and are just 6-15 over the last two seasons. Barring a surprise finish to 2012, all signs point to a new coach taking over in Chestnut Hill next year. If Spaziani has any hope to keep his job, Saturday’s game against Boston College is a must-win situation. There’s little to suggest the Eagles will be able to win this game, but they have lost two out of the last three matchups by a combined six points. Of course, this Notre Dame team is much better than the one Boston College played last year, but it should give the Eagles some hope for an upset.

Can Virginia pull off another surprise?
In one of the biggest upsets of Week 10, Virginia snapped a six-game losing streak and defeated NC State 33-6. The Cavaliers had one of their best overall efforts of the season, scoring the most points they have managed in ACC play this year (33) and held the Wolfpack to a season low of six points. Having an off date before playing NC State certainly helped to spark Virginia, and it’s important for Mike London and his coaching staff to build on last week’s win. The Cavaliers play the next two weeks at home and have a chance to play spoiler in the Coastal race, along with getting bowl eligible by winning their last three games. Virginia’s offense found a spark by using a quarterback rotation last week, while the rushing attack generated 248 yards against the Wolfpack. Miami’s defense has struggled this season, which should be good news for what appears to be an improving Cavaliers’ offense.  

Week 11 ACC Predictions

Week 11 ACC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Florida State at Va. Tech FSU 42-10 FSU 34-20 FSU 34-17 FSU 35-21
Miami at Virginia Miami 28-17 Miami 27-21 Miami 27-24 Miami 21-13
Ga. Tech at North Carolina UNC 35-14 UNC 34-20 UNC 38-30 UNC 31-23
Wake Forest at NC State Wake 28-27 NC State 31-27 NC State 30-23 NC State 34-17
Maryland at Clemson Clemson 56-7 Clemson 42-14 Clemson 38-13 Clemson 34-10
Notre Dame at Boston College Notre Dame 21-10 Notre Dame 27-7 Notre Dame 31-10 Notre Dame 27-3
Last Week: 4-1 3-2 3-2 4-1
Season Record: 60-15 57-18 54-21 62-13

by Steven Lassan


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<p> ACC Week 11 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 05:02
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-11-preview-and-predictions

Although Darrell Royal never coached in the Big 12, league play begins on a somber note on the passing of the legendary Texas coach Tuesday. His name graces the stadium at Texas, where he won 167 games and three national titles. But his career began at another now-Big 12 school when he played quarterback and defensive back for Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma.

Texas will open this week’s game against Iowa State in the wishbone formation, an offense Royal helped popularize staring in the late 60s. The formation established a tradition of innovation on offense that continues today for the schools of the former Southwest and Big 8 conferences into the Big 12.

Other Week 11 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 11:

Will Collin Klein play against TCU? If not, who will step up?

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has been coy about discussion injuries throughout his career, but on the possibility of his Heisman-contending quarterback playing at TCU this week, Snyder said, “I certainly hope that’s the case, and I would expect that to be the case.” Klein left last week’s game with a potential head injury and was shielded from media interviews this week. If he can’t play, the job falls to backup Daniel Sams, who is 6 of 8 passing this year but has rushed for 235 yards and three touchdowns. Even if Klein is hurt or at less than full strength, Kansas State has plenty of other ways to defeat a TCU team down to its own backup quarterback. The Wildcats still have John Hubert (760 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns) and the league’s best return game. Kansas State, which leads the nation with a plus-21 turnover margin, has an edge of 111-0 on points off turnovers this season.

Did Patterson’s gamble boost TCU at just the right time?
TCU coach Gary Patterson gambled against West Virginia, going for a reverse pass in overtime and then going for the win with a two-point conversion instead of a game-tying extra point. The Horned Frogs had the momentum and kept it to defeat the Mountaineers 39-38 in double overtime. TCU will need all the momentum it can get: Now bowl eligible, TCU finishes its first Big 12 season with the three highest ranked teams in the league -- BCS No. 2 Kansas State, No. 17 Texas in Austin and No. 12 Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs will lean on their rush defense, which leads the Big 12 by allowing only 96.6 yards per game. TCU has allowed Big 12 opponents to average just 3.1 yards per carry. This week’s opponent, Kansas State, averages a Big 12-best 5.1 yards per carry in conference games

Regardless of the quarterback situation, can Oklahoma solve its turnover margin woes?
Oklahoma State won the Big 12 last season not only on the might of its offense (which helped), but also its dominance of the turnover battle. The Cowboys were plus-21 in that category last season by leading the country in takeaways. Only a year later, the Cowboys are minus-nine in turnover margin with a Big 12-low nine takeaways. Throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble last week against Kansas State didn’t help, either. Now, Oklahoma State goes into this week’s game against West Virginia with uncertainty at quarterback. Freshman Wes Lunt started last week against K-State but was relieved by junior Clint Chelf when the rookie was injured. Both practiced this week. After remarkable stability at the position for several years under Mike Gundy, the coach has had to deal with uncertainty at QB on almost a weekly basis. If Chelf starts, he’ll be the third starting quarterback this season for the Cowboys.

How can West Virginia turn its woes on offense?
The West Virginia offense has been a shadow of its former self for a month, could things start turning around this week or was the early season success more a product of facing ineffective defenses for Baylor and Texas? Dana Holgorsen hopes the answer is the former. Among reasons for hope: West Virginia receivers dropped nine passes against TCU, and running back Shawne Alston returned after missing five games with a deep thigh bruise. West Virginia might not put up the numbers it did early in the season, but the Mountaineers have reason to be optimistic.

Has Texas taken the first step to a nine- or 10-win season?
Only weeks ago, Mack Brown’s future at Texas was subject of debate. After three consecutive wins, the Longhorns’ season is looking up. Granted, one of those wins featured an abysmal defensive performance (Baylor) and another featured an abysmal offensive (Kansas). But last week’s win at Texas Tech was as complete a game Texas has had since September. The Longhorns were turnover-free and balanced on offense, and the defense held Tech to 4 of 14 on third down (but 2 of 3 on fourth). Facing Iowa State without star linebacker Jake Knott this week and then TCU on Nov. 22 -- both at home -- gives Texas a realistic shot at nine wins. A 10th win during the regular season would be elusive with a season finale at Kansas State.

Did Oklahoma find an answer in its run game in Brennan Clay?
Oklahoma had its second-best ground performance in Big 12 play against Iowa State last week, running for 188 yards and 4.7 yards per run. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the performance of junior Brennan Clay, who rushed for a career-high 157 yards against the Cyclones. Primary running back Damien Williams was hurt, and Dominique Whaley was largely kept on the sideline against Iowa State, opening the door for Clay’s breakout game. Wherever the Oklahoma run game goes this week, there’s a high chance of success at home against a struggling Baylor defense.

Can the Texas Tech defense rebound against James Sims?
One of the best stories of the early part of the season was the improved play of the Texas Tech defense under Art Kaufman. The Red Raiders remain far ahead of where they were last season, but they need a bounce-back game after consecutive losses to Kansas State and Texas. In their last home game of the season, Texas Tech will face Kansas, which is struggling to put points on the scoreboard. Despite the Jayhawks’ struggles, Kansas has one of the league’s best runners in James Sims, who leads the Big 12 in rushing in conference games with 657 yards.

Week 11 Big 12 Predictions:

Week 11 Big 12 Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Iowa State at Texas Texas 28-14 Texas 30-20 Texas 31-20 Texas 33-31
Kansas at Texas Tech Texas Tech 35-7 Texas Tech 34-14 Texas Tech 45-17 Texas Tech 47-10
West Virginia at Oklahoma St. West Virginia 28-21 Okla. St. 34-31 West Virginia 38-34 Okla. St. 48-40
Baylor at Oklahoma Oklahoma 48-31 Oklahoma 45-35 Oklahoma 48-27 Oklahoma 44-20
Kansas State at TCU K-State 21-17 K-State 45-31 K-State 31-24 K-State 34-21
Last week 3-2 4-1 4-1 4-1
Overall 45-13 45-13 44-14 47-11

by David Fox


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<p> Big 12 Week 11 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 05:01